WHAT IF THE DRIVER WHO CRASHED INTO ME HAS NO INSURANCE?
With more than 120,000 automobile crashes every year in Colorado, odds are you might be one of the nearly 330 people involved in accidents every day. Injuries could mean incurring significant medical expenses, losing time from work, and a long, painful recovery.
What’s worse is the added problem of being hit by someone at fault who has no liability insurance or not enough to compensate you for your damages. That makes the physical, emotional, and financial stress even more overwhelming.
At Downs, McDonough, Cowan & Foley, we offer more than 75 years of combined experience in representing victims of automobile accidents in Durango, Colorado, and surrounding communities. We’re aggressive advocates for our clients, helping them recover compensation.
Colorado Insurance Requirements
Colorado mandates that every driver carry at least $25,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person and $50,000 per accident. Those are minimum insurance requirements. To protect yourself and your assets, you should carry much higher liability limits.
What to Do If the Driver Who Hit You Is Not Properly Insured
Colorado is an “at-fault” state for auto insurance. That means the person who caused a crash is legally responsible for compensating those injured or killed. Damages include things such as medical expenses, lost wages and income, and pain and suffering. But what if the negligent driver doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your damages, or doesn’t have any liability coverage at all?
This is where your own insurance coverage can come into play. If you have Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage, you can file a claim under your own policy. UM would apply if the driver responsible for the crash has no bodily injury liability insurance. You could file a claim for your UIM benefits if the driver’s bodily injury limits are lower than your damages. For example, if the driver has the mandatory minimum of $25,000 and your medical bills and other damages are $100,000, you could tap into your UIM coverage to help make up the difference, up to the limits under your own policy.
UM/UIM coverage is not mandatory in Colorado; however, all insurers must offer it to you at the same limits as your bodily injury coverage. If you have liability coverage of $50,000 per person, your insurer must offer you $50,000 in UM/UIM coverage. It will be automatically added to your policy, and the corresponding premium will be charged unless you decline the coverage in writing.
You also have the option of filing a civil lawsuit against the person responsible for the crash. This is usually not a useful strategy unless the responsible driver has assets that could be acquired to pay for any judgment a judge or jury might award you.
Colorado Med Pay Law
Colorado requires insurers to provide a minimum of $5,000 in medical payment coverage. Unless you decline the coverage in writing, it will be included in your policy and you will be charged the premium for it. You can also pay for higher Med Pay limits if you want them.
Med Pay can be used to help pay for your medical bills, regardless of who’s at fault for a crash. The coverage is particularly helpful during the time your attorney is working to settle your claim or prosecuting a civil suit.
How much Med Pay should you have? One good rule of thumb is to have enough to cover your health insurance deductible to save you from dipping into your checking or savings account to pay medical bills while you pursue your claim. For example, if your health insurance deductible is $10,000, you should consider having at least that amount in Med Pay coverage. You might be pleasantly surprised at how little that coverage adds to your premium.
How Downs, McDonough, Cowan & Foley Can Help
Filling a claim against a well-insured driver is a tough enough process. Figuring out how to get compensation for your damages when a negligent driver has no or too little bodily injury liability insurance is even more complicated. But it doesn’t mean you’re just “out of luck.” An experienced, knowledgeable, and aggressive personal injury attorney can help by investigating all available coverages and assets.
At Downs, McDonough, Cowan & Foley, we’ve helped hundreds of people injured by negligent drivers put together the pieces of insurance coverage and use their legal right to sue to find compensation. If you live in Durango, Telluride, Pagosa Springs, or Cortez, Colorado, or in The Four Corners, call our office today. Consultations are free and we don’t get paid unless you do.
Don’t wait. Call us now.