Drivers run from the scene of an accident for various reasons. These include unpaid fines, an outstanding warrant, fear of having to pay for damages and not having car insurance. Not having auto insurance is common in hit-and-run accidents. And it’s easy to see why.
Michigan has some of the highest auto insurance rates in the country, and many drivers simply cannot afford it. Others just forget to renew their car insurance or assume it has been automatically renewed. Today, around 30% of motorists in Michigan are uninsured. In Detroit and other parts of the state, the number could be much higher.
With so many uninsured drivers, compensation for injuries has become a real concern. For example, if you get involved in an accident, how will the negligent uninsured driver pay you? Since most uninsured drivers cannot afford auto insurance, how in the world will they be able to pay for a whiplash injury or a broken arm that they caused while behind the wheel? The good news is that car accident victims can turn to their own auto insurance if the other party is uninsured. This is called an Uninsured Motorist claim.
What is an Uninsured Motorist Claim?
Uninsured Motorist (UM) benefits cover the pain and suffering of a car crash victim. UM claims may include payment of medical bills, lost income, emotional distress, and other financial losses in cases where there is no PIP coverage.
Do I Have Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage?
Michigan law does not make UM coverage mandatory. Unfortunately, it means you have to specifically add UM coverage to your plan when buying car insurance. If you get hit by an uninsured driver and do not have UM coverage, you cannot make a UM claim – unless you have another car with UM coverage.
To find out if your vehicle has UM coverage, read the declaration page at the beginning of your car insurance policy. In Michigan, most insurance coverages look like this:
- Bodily Injury: $50,000 per person
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP): unlimited medical coverage
- Uninsured (UM) and Underinsured (UIM) benefits: $250,000 per person
- Collision coverage: $1,000 deductible
If you do not see UM benefits on the declaration page, then you do not have UM coverage. You can also call your insurance agent to verify if your policy has UM coverage. If you have UM coverage, the insurance company will pay you on behalf of the uninsured driver.
In cases where an injured person does not have personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, they can charge their hospital bills, doctor fees, lost wages, and other expenses to the uninsured motorist claim.
Can I Still Make a Claim If I Have No UM Coverage?
Yes, you can still make a claim for uninsured motorist benefits if the vehicle you were driving has UM coverage. In addition, some policies allow an occupant to make a UM claim, even if you do not know the owner of the vehicle.
It is vital to call an experienced Lansing car accident lawyer if you have been involved in a hit-and-run. Your attorney can determine if you are eligible for UM benefits.
Can I Sue an Uninsured Motorist?
The short answer is no. In an uninsured motorist claim, the defendant is not the other driver but the auto insurance company. For example, you sustained a car accident injury, and the driver fled. Because you have State Farm insurance with UM coverage, the expenses in treating your leg fracture, low back pain, and other ailments will have to be paid by State Farm.
If State Farm does not pay, you could file a lawsuit against the company for not awarding the benefits that you are entitled to.
Getting involved in a car accident can be very frustrating. It is even more infuriating if the negligent driver flees the scene. Our hit-and-run accident lawyers can assist you and walk you through the process of claiming a settlement for your injuries.
Insurance companies are likely to take advantage of you if they know that you have not hired a lawyer. With legal representation, you can force these companies to take your case seriously and eliminate the possibility of an unfair settlement.
Most car insurance companies impose strict deadlines on making claims, so you should call a Michigan car accident lawyer right after the crash. Call us at (517) 347-6900, so we can study your case and evaluate your eligibility for uninsured motorist claims.