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What Happens After a Car Accident With an Uninsured Driver?

October 5, 2023 Legal Team

Dealing with a car accident is stressful, and it gets even more difficult if the other driver doesn’t have car insurance. In Arizona, like all places, people must have auto insurance by law. However, it’s an unfortunate reality that not everyone follows this rule.

Knowing the laws about insurance and what to do if you have an accident with a driver who doesn’t have coverage is really important. This can help protect your rights and make sure you get money for damages that you are entitled to under these situations.

What Happens After a Car Accident With an Uninsured Driver

Arizona Car Insurance Requirements

In Arizona, car insurance isn’t just a good idea—it’s a legal requirement. To legally drive in the state, you must carry minimum liability coverage including: 

  • $25,000 for bodily injury or death of one person involved in an accident,
  • $50,000 coverage if two or more individuals sustain injuries or die during an accident; and 
  • $15,000 for property damage caused to others.

Insurance providers are obligated to keep the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) duly informed about any policy cancellations, non-renewals, and newly commenced policies. If MVD receives information that your policy is no longer active from your insurer, they will send you an inquiry notice requesting insurance status verification.

Not keeping up with valid auto insurance could lead to severe consequences such as suspension of both your vehicle registration and/or driver’s license.

Arizona is an At-Fault State

Arizona is considered an at-fault state when it comes to car accidents, which means that the driver who caused the accident is responsible for any damages resulting from the incident – hence the importance of insurance coverage. 

In these states, if you’re found at fault in a collision, your liability insurance will generally cover other people’s medical bills and vehicle repairs up to your policy’s limit. If damage exceeds those limits or if you don’t have sufficient insurance coverage, you could face out-of-pocket costs.

What To Do If You’re in an Accident With an Uninsured Driver

If you’re in an accident with a driver who does not have insurance, it’s really helpful to have Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM) as part of your own policy. But remember, while this type of coverage is very useful in these situations, the law in Arizona doesn’t require you to have it.

Uninsured motorist coverage essentially protects you when involved in a collision with a driver who lacks suitable auto insurance. You would then file a claim with your own insurer rather than the other party involved in the accident and demonstrate why they owe you money due to damages caused.

Once your settlement comes through from this claims process, insurers may proceed to sue the uninsured individual legally responsible for causing damage or injury; this process is known as subrogation.

What If You Don’t Have Uninsured Coverage?

If you don’t carry UI/UIM coverage, your last resort could be to initiate a lawsuit directly against the other driver. However, even if the fault is not yours in an accident, obtaining a substantial monetary recovery can be challenging and often impossible. 

Insurance exists primarily to manage unforeseen expenses from accidents as most individuals do not have sufficient assets to pay for someone else’s accident costs outright. While courts possess legal mechanisms like wage garnishment among others for the gradual settlement of damages owed by an at-fault party with limited financial resources, it’s likely that you might still fall short in recovering the money you’re owed.

Specific Steps Take After an Accident

Dealing with an accident, especially when the other party is uninsured, can be overwhelming. Being prepared and knowing what to do is critical. Here are some steps to ensure you have the best chance at recovery:

Ensure safety: When an accident occurs, the first thing you should do is make sure everyone is okay and safe. Check for any severe injuries and if it’s possible, move yourselves to a secure location to avoid additional harm.

Call The Police: Official documentation is vital. When dealing with an uninsured driver, it becomes necessary to have a police report which objectively documents the incident details.

Gather evidence: This includes taking photographs of the accident scene, jotting down specifics about what happened and when, as well as collecting contact information from any witnesses present during the occurrence.

Exchange Information: It’s essential to share your contact and insurance information with other parties involved in an accident. Make sure you get their information and insurance status as well.

Seek Medical Attention: Even if you don’t feel injured, it’s essential to see a healthcare provider as some injuries may not manifest immediately after an accident.

Notify Your Insurer: Contacting your insurance company as promptly as possible after the incident is recommended to start processing any potential claims.

Contact a Lawyer: Seeking the advice of a lawyer in cases where you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured driver can highly impact your chances of successfully pursuing a claim. Our Phoenix injury attorneys are well-versed in navigating legal complexities associated with such incidents and bring valuable expertise to guide you throughout the process. 

Lawyers have comprehensive knowledge about state-specific laws and insurance policies and can advise you effectively on the available options based on your unique circumstances. They can evaluate your case, gather necessary evidence, interview witnesses, and coordinate with insurers regarding claims.

Overall, lawyers work toward maximizing any compensation you may be able to retrieve after an accident.

Stay Calm: Finally, it’s crucial to remember that patience and calmness are key during these stressful situations. Legal procedures can often be lengthy and become nerve-wracking, especially when the other driver isn’t insured and it’s looking like you may not get what you’re entitled to, but maintaining a level head is essential.  

Having an understanding lawyer working alongside you will no doubt ease some of this stress and make the entire situation more tolerable.

Taking these measures can better position you to handle situations involving uninsured drivers and aid your journey toward recovery, both physically and financially. If you have questions or need help, don’t hesitate to contact our Phoenix car accident lawyers today to schedule a free consultation.