In the state of Indiana, if you are injured by another driver’s negligence in a traffic collision, what are your legal rights and options? Every traffic accident case is different, of course, so you would need to discuss the particulars of your own case with an experienced Evansville personal injury attorney. However, generally speaking, the injured victims of negligent drivers are entitled under Indiana law to recover complete compensation for all of their medical expenses, lost wages, and all other injury-related losses and damages.
However, far too many of us in Indiana are injured every year by motorists who drive without any automobile insurance or with only minimal auto insurance coverage. If you are injured in Indiana traffic by a driver who is both negligent and uninsured or underinsured, what happens? If there’s no insurance or only minimal coverage, can you still be compensated in some way for your medical expenses and for any days you’ve lost from work due to your injuries?
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU’RE INJURED BY AN UNINSURED DRIVER?
The first two things you should do after any traffic accident with injuries is to summon medical help and to call the police – or to have someone else make those calls if you can’t due to your injuries. If you decide to file a personal injury claim, the police accident report may be able to confirm your side of the story and indicate that the other driver was at fault. The police report may or may not be useful, but you won’t know until you have a copy.
Obtain the other driver’s name and address, telephone number, the name of that driver’s insurance company, and that driver’s policy number. If possible, get an e-mail address and a work address too. If the driver is uninsured, he or she may honestly admit it, may give you bogus insurance information, or may try to avoid the matter entirely by saying the insurance information is at home or in another vehicle. If the other driver is too injured or impaired to help you – or is just plain uncooperative – ask the police to help you obtain the information you need. The police may be able to confirm if the driver is or is not insured.
Because they have no insurance or very little insurance, uninsured and underinsured drivers may sometimes become hit-and-run drivers when they are responsible for accidents. If you are injured in a hit-and-run incident in Indiana, call the police so that they can make an accident report and look for evidence at the scene. In many of these cases, the police are able to identify and locate a hit-and-run driver.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO AT THE SCENE OF AN ACCIDENT?
In any traffic collision, and even before you can speak with an attorney, it is imperative to collect as much information as possible. Take photographs of the damages to the vehicles, of your injuries, and the accident scene. You can’t take too many. Photos can offer powerful and often conclusive evidence in personal injury cases.
If others saw the accident – bystanders or possibly other drivers who stopped to help – try to obtain their names and contact information as well. Just as you can’t have too many photographs, you can’t have too many eyewitnesses helping to verify your personal injury claim.
The other driver may say and believe that he or she is uninsured, but that’s not always necessarily the case. That driver may have some coverage that he or she doesn’t know about, and you may have some coverage that you don’t know about as well. An experienced Evansville personal injury attorney can fully investigate any and all insurance policies that might apply in your situation.
If the driver who injured you has no insurance coverage, an injury victim’s next move is usually turning to his or her own auto insurance policy for compensation. Drivers in Indiana, in fact, probably already have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, because it is included by law as part of every Indiana automobile insurance policy – unless the policyholder specifically rejects in writing the uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage at the time of the policy’s purchase.
If you are injured by an uninsured driver in Indiana, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against that driver and attempt to collect compensation for your injuries, but that’s usually not the wise move, because uninsured drivers – if they can’t even purchase auto insurance – almost certainly have no ability to pay a personal injury settlement or verdict. If you are injured in traffic in Indiana, your uninsured motorist coverage should take care of you in most cases and save you the aggravation of having to take legal action.
HOW DO UNDERINSURED DRIVERS DIFFER FROM UNINSURED DRIVERS?
An uninsured driver is entirely without automobile insurance coverage from any policy. However, when a driver who injures you is “underinsured,” you might recover part of your compensation from that driver’s policy and the other part from your own policy.
Your underinsured motorist coverage is designed to make up the difference when the at-fault driver’s policy is insufficient to cover your damages. If the at-fault driver has only $25,000 of coverage, for example, but your medical expenses and lost wages amount to $35,000, your own uninsured motorist coverage in Indiana can provide the additional $10,000.
Underinsured drivers are at least in compliance with Indiana law. Drivers with no auto insurance coverage are not in compliance and may be subject to a $500 fine for driving without automobile insurance or subject to a $1000 fine if they are also driving with a suspended registration.
State law in Indiana requires every motorist to carry the following minimum amounts of liability insurance coverage:
- Bodily injury coverage per person: $25,000
- Bodily injury coverage per accident when multiple persons are injured: $50,000
- Property damage coverage per accident: $10,000
According to the Insurance Research Council, fourteen percent of the motorists in the United States have no auto insurance at all, and in some states, the number of uninsured motorists may be as high as one in four. If you are injured in traffic in this state by a motorist with no auto insurance, by a motorist with insufficient insurance, or by a hit-and-run driver, seek medical attention at once and then schedule a consultation with an experienced Evansville personal injury attorney.