Getting in a serious car accident is scary. It’s even harder when you find out that the person who hit you is an uninsured driver. If that driver can’t or won’t take responsibility for their actions, how are you supposed to pay for your medical bills, lost wages and other losses you suffered in the crash?
The good news is that, in many cases, you can turn to your own insurance policy for help. In Louisiana, all auto insurance policies come with uninsured motorist insurance (also called UMI), unless the purchaser specifically declines that coverage in writing. Uninsured motorist insurance provides coverage when an accident was caused by an uninsured driver or an unidentifiable hit-and-run driver.
Here are a few things you should know if you’re going to make an uninsured driver claim:
Report the accident to your insurance company and to the police as soon as it is safe to do so. Reporting to law enforcement is especially important in hit-and-run accidents, as the police report will help corroborate your claim.
If you are hurt, get medical care right away. If you hit your head in the accident or you’re experiencing symptoms like dizziness, disorientation or a severe headache, go to the emergency room as these could be signs of a potentially life-threatening traumatic brain injury. If your injuries start emerging in the hours or days following the accident, tell your doctor about the car accident and ask them to make a note in your chart about the cause of your injuries.
Insurance is a business, and businesses are designed to make money. As such, your insurance company has an incentive to make the lowest payout possible.
Be cautious when dealing with your insurance company. Don’t accept a settlement right off the bat, and don’t give a recorded statement without talking to a lawyer first. It’s likely that your insurance company will be actively looking for ways to prove you are not as injured as you say you are, or to shift the blame for the accident onto you or another person.
When you have a serious injury – especially one that requires extensive rehabilitation like a joint injury, herniated disc or other back injury – it is important that you get all of the care your doctor recommends. Good medical care helps you get better and get on with your life. A history of care also provides crucial evidence to prove your case. If you stop going to the doctor, your insurance company (or a judge or jury if your case goes to trial) might not believe that you are injured and therefore might not give you fair compensation.
If you’re having trouble paying for your medical bills, talk to your lawyer before discontinuing care. It’s best when you work out a plan of action together.
There are a lot of personal injury attorneys out there. When you’re involved in such a serious and stressful event as an uninsured driver or hit-and-run accident, it is important that you consider your choice of attorney carefully. You need someone who will fight diligently for your rights while also making sure you are treated with care and compassion.
The Charbonnet Law Firm has offices in New Orleans and Metairie, Lousiana. We pride ourselves on providing personalized attention to each and every one of our personal injury clients. If you or a loved one has been in an accident, call our office to schedule a free consultation to learn more about your legal rights and your opportunities for moving forward.