Tennessee law requires all drivers to maintain a minimum level of auto insurance. Nevertheless, there are many uninsured drivers on the road. If you get hit by an uninsured driver you essentially have two options. First, you can file a lawsuit against the uninsured driver personally. In the alternative, you can file an uninsured motorist claim under your own insurance policy.
Filing a lawsuit
The fact that the at-fault driver does not have auto insurance bears no weight on your legal right or your ability to file a civil lawsuit against that driver. The lack of insurance will however, have an effect on your ability to collect any monetary damages if the judge or jury finds in your favor. The uninsured driver will be responsible for paying any settlements or judgments out of their own pocket so the likelihood of you actually receiving compensation for your injuries depends entirely on the uninsured driver’s ability and willingness to pay the judgment.
Uninsured motorist coverage
Tennessee insurance laws require that all car insurance policies issued in the state include uninsured motorist coverage. So, if your auto insurance policy was issued in Tennessee, then you have uninsured motorist coverage. The amount of coverage you have will depend on your personal insurance policy, however, Tennessee law mandates that uninsured motorist coverage matches your policy limits for bodily injury and property damage. Currently, state law requires drivers to carry a minimum of $25,000 in coverage for bodily injury and a minimum of $15,000 in coverage for property damage.
Filing an uninsured motorist claim
If you get hit by an insured driver, or if the driver who hit you refuses to give you their insurance information, it is important that you file your uninsured motorist claim as soon as possible. Many insurance companies impose strict timelines that require you to file your claim immediately following the accident. If you miss the filing deadline you may be completely barred from recovering any amount of compensation from your insurance company.
Other than the filing the deadline, filing an uninsured motorist claim generally works just like filing a claim in any other car accident case: you just file the claim against your own insurance company instead of the other driver’s. Like any other case, an insurance adjuster will be assigned to your claim to investigate the facts of your case and determine who is at fault. The adjuster will also evaluate the severity of your injuries. You will be required to submit medical records as proof of your injuries and may be asked to give a statement or testify at a deposition concerning issues of liability.
Settling your uninsured motorist claim
After the claims adjuster assigned to your case completes their investigation, they will you offer you a settlement amount that fits somewhere within your policy limits. If you feel that the adjuster’s offer is unfair, you can attempt to negotiate a different amount. One difference between filing a third party claim against another driver’s insurance carrier and filing an uninsured motorist claim against your own insurance carrier is that you generally cannot file a lawsuit against your own insurance carrier. Most insurance contracts contain a provision that requires you to submit your claim to arbitration if you are unable to reach a settlement on your own. That is why our experienced team of Tennessee car wreck Attorneys are here to help.