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Who Covers Costs When a Liable Party Has No Insurance?

Car accidents are expensive. While property loss can be tens-of-thousands of dollars, costs mount even more quickly if the accident causes injury. For example, brain injuries -- which are especially common in auto accidents -- can necessitate rehabilitation that isn't necessarily covered by health insurance. The USA Today reports costs at $600-$800 per day.  Unfortunately, as the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association reports, one American is treated in an emergency room for car accident injuries every 10 seconds. This means many people are incurring high medical bills each day because of auto accidents.   

At the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone, our Boston uninsured accident lawyers know that an accident victim's own personal injury protection (PIP) coverage can provide limited coverage for medical bills, no matter who was to blame for the accident. Massachusetts is one of 12 states which requires no-fault insurance, and the policy you’re required to buy when you register your car can cover up to $8,000 in medical costs if you have no health insurance when involved in an accident.

However, if your costs and losses exceed the no-fault limits and/or if you were seriously hurt in an accident caused by another party, it is important to understand who covers costs when a liable party has no insurance.

Who Covers Costs When a Liable Party Has No Insurance?

It is illegal for a driver to operate a vehicle with no auto insurance, and every driver must provide proof of insurance when registering a car in the state of Massachusetts.

Despite this fact, USA Today reports that around four percent of all drivers in the state of Massachusetts are operating their vehicles without the minimum of $20,000/person and $40,000/accident in bodily injury liability coverage that state law requires. This percentage of uninsured drivers is lower than the national average -- as many as one out of every seven drivers nationwide is lacking in required insurance coverage -- but it still amounts to thousands of motorists on the road taking a risk with their own finances and the finances of others.

When a liable party has no insurance and causes an accident, that motorist is still liable for accident injuries under the law, even though the driver has no insurer. Without insurance, the driver who was liable for the accident would need to personally cover both the fees for legal services as well as the payment of compensation to accident victims.

If the driver who was liable for the accident has a ton of money and/or lots of valuable assets, then it is not a very big problem that the liable party has no insurance. Injured accident victims can just pursue a claim for compensation directly against the driver who caused the crash.

This is rare, however, and many drivers who have no insurance also do not have the money to pay car accident damages. As such, when and if accident victims sue the liable party, the victims may get a judgment, but it may not be collectible.

Accident victims, therefore, can look to other sources to cover costs of the accident.   In some cases, it is smart to see if anyone else with deeper pockets might be liable. For example, if the car malfunctioned in a way that led to the crash, the car manufacturer could potentially be sued or an auto repair shop for inadequate repairs.

In most situations, however, a Massachusetts driver would turn to his/her uninsured motorist coverage. Drivers are required to buy $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident in uninsured motorist coverage, which means the accident victim can make a claim up to his or her own policy limits to pay for damages.

If a driver hurt you and the liable party has no insurance, you still have options for getting car accident compensation. Call 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 to schedule a free consultation with a car accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone.

Not Enough Insurance: What Happens If You Hit Someone in Your Car?

If you cause an auto accident, you could face both criminal and civil actions. A civil action is a lawsuit brought by an injured victim or by surviving family members of a victim killed in the crash to recover monetary compensation.

Injured victims can incur significant medical expenses in an accident. The Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association reported in 2008 that AAA estimates a traffic death has a per-person cost of $3.2 million while injured victims had a per-person cost of $68,170.

At the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone, our Massachusetts uninsured accident lawyers serving Boston, Springfield, Worcester and all of the Bay State know if you have only the minimum Massachusetts required coverage of $20,000 per person bodily injury and $40,000 per accident liability coverage, you could end up faced with significant personal liability because this is not enough insurance to compensation those badly injured when you cause an accident.

You Are At Risk With Not Enough Insurance

Your insurance company has an obligation to represent you when you are sued after an accident and to try to settle the case or resolve the claim within the limits of policy coverage.

Motorists without enough insurance could find themselves the defendant in a personal injury lawsuit brought by an injured accident victim. If the court determines you caused the accident, the court will assess the total amount of damages the other driver is owed for both economic and non-economic losses.  The jury will award compensation, and the insurance company will pay only up to policy maximum.

The injured victim could try to collect the additional compensation from you personally if you did not have enough insurance to cover all losses. This could involve liens being placed on property, or wage garnishment depending upon how aggressively the accident victim and his attorneys pursue the damages received in excess of insurance policy limits.

The more assets and money you have, the more likely it is that you could become the target of court action intended to obtain compensation from you personally if there is not enough insurance.

The insurance coverage of the victim also impacts whether a claim will be made against you personally, as the victim could instead opt to pursue compensation under his/her underinsured coverage if there is not enough insurance under your policy to pay bills in full. Underinsured coverage, however, is optional, and not all motorists in Massachusetts will have this type of coverage.

Your Own Bills and Costs After an Accident

In addition to being faced with legal action by an injured victim seeking compensation, you may have your own medical bills and costs arising from the crash. Your personal injury protection (PIP) policy should cover these costs up to policy limits, including partial lost-wage benefits if your injuries cause you to miss work. PIP pays out even if you are at fault for the crash.

Massachusetts laws, however, require only $8,000 per person per accident in personal injury protection. If your losses exceed this amount, then you would not be able to obtain the excess damages from your own insurer unless you had supplementary optional coverage in addition to state minimum mandated coverage.

Make Sure You Have Enough Insurance

Being caught with not enough insurance can cost you huge sums of money if you injure yourself or others. It is typically advised to purchase more than the minimum state-required insurance to shift the risk of financial loss to the insurer.

Inadequate insurance lawyers in Boston can help you get the coverage you need after an accident. Call 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 to schedule a free consultation with a car accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone.