Can I sue an uninsured driver?
Unfortunately, there are millions of uninsured drivers on the road. If you get hit by an uninsured driver, you might be wondering, can I sue an uninsured driver? In a word: Yes. You can sue an uninsured driver. But the bigger question is – is it worth it?
If you were hit by an uninsured driver, contact our office to discuss your options at 847-305-4105.
The truth – 1.1 million uninsured drivers in Illinois
According to the Insurance Information Institute, approximately 13% of all drivers driving on the road are uninsured. In the state of Illinois, there are approximately 8,500,000 licensed drivers. That means, there are over 1.1 million uninsured drivers in Illinois. As such, you are at risk every time you get in your vehicle.
The state with the highest levels of uninsured drivers? It’s Florida where it is estimated that 27% of all drivers are uninsured according to this story by CBS News.
Can I sue an uninsured driver?
Yes, you can sue an uninsured driver. You can file a lawsuit and seek reimbursement for your damages. The problem is, if the uninsured driver doesn’t have the resources to buy auto insurance, they probably don’t have enough money or financial assets to compensate you for your damages.
So, what do you do?
First, you do not just take the driver’s word at the scene of the accident that he or she is uninsured. Take down his/her driver’s license number, license plate number and contact information. Provide that to your auto insurance company which has access to resources to determine if the driver was actually uninsured.
Second, it may be that the driver had insurance but it lapsed prior to the accident. This is a very common scenario. In that case, still file a claim with the defendant’s auto insurance company. Do not just take his/her insurance company’s word that the driver is uninsured. Make them provide you a letter documenting the fact that the driver is uninsured. Your insurance company will likely require that before they compensate you anyways.
File a claim with your auto insurance company
If you have auto insurance in the state of Illinois, then you also have the mandatory uninsured motorist insurance limits of $25,000. If the driver who hit you is uninsured, you can seek reimbursement for your medical bills and your pain and suffering from your own insurance. You may be able to seek reimbursement for your property damage as well if you have collision coverage.
Beware – when you seek compensation from your own insurance company, you become adverse – meaning, your insurance carrier will try and pay you as little as they can just as if you were the opposing party.
Is $25,000 enough uninsured motorist coverage?
Not even close. If you are able, I also recommend that drivers have at least $100,000 in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. If you get in a serious accident, $25,000 might not even cover your medical expenses let alone compensate you for your pain and suffering.
When can I sue an uninsured driver? And when should you sue the driver?
If you are involved in an auto accident and you learn that the defendant is uninsured, when should you file a lawsuit against him or her?
I have recommended that people file a lawsuit against the defendant driver in several situations. The most common are:
- When both parties are uninsured: If you suffered damages and you as the victim also do not have insurance, then file suit. You can file in small claims court if your damages are below $10,000. This is the very situation that small claims court is there for. It will cost you a few hundred dollars to file suit and serve the defendant but at least you have a chance of recovering
- If you have liability/uninsured motorist coverage but do not have collision coverage: It may be that you got in an accident and you have insurance but do not have coverage to repair your car. If you didn’t suffer any injuries, you might as well file in small claims court.
Prior to going to court, you need to have estimates or receipts for repairs to your vehicle. It is also a good idea to have completed your medical treatment and obtained your medical records and bills.
If you do decide to file suit, do your homework. The rules regarding introducing evidence (like your property damage estimate and medical bills) are very laxed in small claims court. However, you still should do a little research on how small claims court works to ensure success.
If you have any further questions regarding how to sue an uninsured driver, feel free to contact my office at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation. I am happy to consult with you on this or any other personal injury related topic.