Uninsured Motorist Accidents
What To Do If You Are Hit By An Uninsured Driver In Rhode Island
An uninsured motorist accident occurs when the at-fault driver does not have a valid auto insurance policy. It is against the law and utterly reckless to operate a vehicle without insurance, but these people cause accidents in Rhode Island and Massachusetts every day. If you were involved in a car, motorcycle or another motor vehicle accident in which the other driver was uninsured or underinsured, an experienced auto accident lawyer in Cranston can help.
How Uninsured Motorist Accidents Happen
Despite Rhode Island state law requiring mandatory auto insurance, many drivers in Rhode Island are currently uninsured. Why? Because the state of Rhode Island does not follow up with insurance companies or require insurance companies to report cancellations of coverage. That means that a person can obtain insurance by paying for the first month, legally register their car in the state of Rhode Island and then stop payment on their policy ultimately resulting in the cancellation of coverage. A month or two later that person runs a stop sign causing serious injury to you and your passengers.
What Can You Do If Hit By An Uninsured Driver?
The first thing that you should do following an accident with an uninsured driver is to contact an experienced Rhode Island auto accident attorney. The easiest option is to proceed under your own uninsured motorist coverage. In Rhode Island, however, uninsured motorist coverage is not required by law. Many people look to save money on their auto policy by excluding uninsured motorist coverage. If you do, however, carry uninsured motorist coverage on your auto policy then you will proceed with your own insurance policy as if you were going against the at-fault driver. You are entitled to the same damages, namely, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Your insurance company cannot punish you or charge you extra for going through your uninsured motorist coverage. You pay for that coverage every month and you are entitled to use it if needed.
If you do not have uninsured motorist coverage on your auto policy, there may not be many options. You do have the right to sue the negligent driver directly, but unless that person owns property or has assets, you are unlikely to ever recover your damages. Quite frankly, anyone who is ignorant enough to drive without insurance is unlikely to have any money.
Underinsured Motorist Accidents
Uninsured motorist is also underinsured motorist coverage. That means that if you are seriously injured in an auto accident and the at-fault driver does not have enough coverage (i.e. they carry Rhode Island State minimum of $25,000) then you can use your uninsured motorist as an underinsured motorist. If your case is worth $50,000 and the at-fault driver only has $25,000 in coverage, then you can obtain the additional $25,000 owed to you through your own underinsured motorist coverage.
In this area of law, there is a very important distinction between Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
In Rhode Island, you can stack your underinsured motorist coverage on top of the liability insurance paid out by the at-fault driver. Therefore, if the at-fault driver pays you $25,000 and you have $25,000 in underinsured coverage you can obtain that amount for a total of $50,000. In Massachusetts, you can only obtain underinsured motorist compensation if your policy is for an amount greater than the at-fault driver’s policy. For example, if you are hit by a driver who carries only $20,000 (the minimum liability policy in Massachusetts) you cannot collect underinsured motorist coverage if you only have $20,000 in uninsured motorist insurance. If, however, you had $50,000 in uninsured motorist coverage, then you can collect $30,000 (the $50,000 less the $20,000 already received by the at-fault driver.) This is because you cannot “stack” the policies in Massachusetts.