I Was in a Car Crash With an Uninsured Driver, What Should I Do Now?

In Illinois, as in most states, drivers are required to carry auto insurance to cover damages and injuries in the event of a car accident. However, despite these laws, uninsured drivers continue to pose a risk on the roads. If you’re involved in a car crash with an uninsured driver, you might wonder what options you have to recover your losses.

The aftermath of an accident with an uninsured driver can be confusing and stressful. Let’s go over what happens when the at-fault driver lacks insurance in Illinois, the legal process involved in an uninsured motorist claim, and the limitations on recovery in such cases.

What to Do After an Accident With an Uninsured Motorist

If you find yourself in the unfortunate circumstance of being in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, your best course of action is to file an uninsured motorist claim with your insurance provider. Knowing what to do in the first 30 days after the car crash is crucial to ensure you protect your rights and receive the compensation you deserve.

When an at-fault driver does not have insurance, you generally have two primary options:

  1. File an Uninsured Motorist Claim — If you have car insurance, uninsured motorist coverage is one of the most important pieces of coverage in your policy (UM/UIM). This coverage protects you in case of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.
  2. Pursue a Legal Claim Against the At-Fault Driver — Without insurance, you can file a legal claim against the at-fault driver, seeking compensation for your injuries and damages. This option can be much more complex as you will be going after the driver’s personal assets and is subject to the formal legal process.

Uninsured Motorist Claim vs. Legal Claim

Let’s dive into the differences between an uninsured motorist claim, which is essentially a contractual claim between you and your insurance provider, and a legal claim against the at-fault driver. Legal claims fall under the category of a tort cause of action, subject to the rules of a civil procedure, formal discovery, and other legal processes.

Uninsured Motorist Claim

When you file an uninsured motorist claim, you are essentially invoking a clause within your own auto insurance policy. This process involves dealing with your insurer directly, and the legal system only plays a limited role.

  • Contact Your Insurer — You should notify your insurance provider immediately after the accident. They will help guide you through making your claim. 
  • No Formal Discovery — Uninsured motorist claims are contractual, meaning there is no formal discovery process, depositions, or lengthy legal proceedings typically associated with a legal claim against a third-party defendant.
  • Limits Based on Your Policy — Your recovery in an uninsured motorist claim is usually limited to the policy limits you carry. For instance, if your policy covers $50,000 in uninsured motorist benefits, that is the maximum amount you can recover from your insurer.

Legal Claim Against the At-Fault Driver

Pursuing a legal claim against the at-fault uninsured driver involves a more formal and often more complex process.

  • Filing a Lawsuit — As the injured party, you would initiate a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. This involves drafting a complaint, serving it to the defendant, and proceeding with court proceedings.
  • Discovery Process — In a legal claim, both parties participate in formal discovery, including depositions, interrogatories, document requests, and more. This process can be time-consuming and costly.
  • Subject to Court Rules — Your case will be subject to the rules of civil procedure, and the court will oversee the proceedings, which can extend the duration of the case.
  • Recovery Depends on Defendant’s Assets — If the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance, the chances they have sufficient assets to cover your losses are often slim. Even if you win the case, recovering damages may have practical challenges.

Pullano & Siporin, Trusted Chicago Personal Injury Attorneys

Being involved in a car crash with an uninsured driver is a challenging situation to be in. Illinois law mandates drivers to have auto insurance, but accidents with uninsured drivers still happen.

When you find yourself in this situation, the best course of action is to file an uninsured motorist claim with your own insurer. However, these claims can be complex, and understanding the legal aspects is crucial to ensure you get fair compensation. To navigate through these legal processes and maximize your recovery, seeking out the expertise of a trusted personal injury attorney is highly recommended.                                             

The team of attorneys at Pullano & Siporin are here to guide and support you with the knowledge and experience to secure the best possible outcome for your case. Don’t hesitate to consult with our legal professionals to protect your rights and interests in the wake of an uninsured motorist accident. Having a dedicated attorney by your side provides peace of mind and ensures you will be fully compensated for your injuries.

Contact us today for a consultation. Let us help you secure the financial relief you need during this difficult time.

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