June 23, 2016
AN UNINSURED MOTORIST HIT ME! NOW WHAT HAPPENS?
When you are injured in a car crash and you suspect that the at-fault driver has no insurance, it is best to contact a personal injury attorney to help you determine your rights and the best options for recovering damages for your property damage and for your personal injuries.
New Mexico Statutes require that all drivers carry liability car insurance.
Mandatory liability car insurance laws ensure that individuals will have a minimal amount of coverage for injuries or property damage caused by car crashes. The minimal amounts of liability insurance that each New Mexico driver must carry is as follows:
- $25,000 for injury or death, per person.
- $50,000 for total injury or death if multiple people are hurt in the accident.
- $10,000 for property damage.
Nevertheless, uninsured motorists are a problem in New Mexico. This is especially true when there is an economic downturn. When individuals are out of work or financially stressed, car insurance is an item they will not pay for despite the New Mexico Laws that required all drivers to carry car insurance. According to the most recent statistics, it is estimated that in any given year, around 12% of all drivers are uninsured.
Given the large number of uninsured motorist accidents in the State of New Mexico, you can assume that there is a 1 in 10 chance that the other driver will have no insurance. This leaves many individuals with the question of what to do with the all-too-common scenario of being in an accident with someone who is driving illegally without insurance.
It is often difficult to determine if the other driver was insured or uninsured after a crash. The police officer investigating the car accident will often refuse to provide the other driver’s information and tell you that you can get it from the police report. What the officer will not tell you is that it will take more than 10 days to get the police report (if you are lucky it will be 10 days). In the mean time you will not be able to determine the insurance status of the other driver or begin the claims process.
Once you get the police report, there is a chance that it lists an insurance company that no longer insures the driver. Sometimes individuals buy insurance so that they have an insurance card and then stop making payments. This prevents them from being ticketed by the police but means that they do not have to pay insurance premiums. When you contact the insurance carrier, they will take weeks to investigate the claim and then send you a denial letter.
Sometimes the insurance information provided by a defendant is just incorrect, and they actually have car insurance. There are ways to obtain this information from the Department of Motor Vehicles. In some rare cases, the insurance information given to the police officer is incorrect and the individual driver actually has insurance. I myself have found insurance policies that were not provided in the police report or that were mistakenly reported after a car accident.
A personal injury attorney can help determine if it is worthwhile to legally pursue an uninsured motorist. This is normally only a fruitful endeavor if the at-fault driver has assets out of which to pay a judgment.
If the at-fault driver has no personal assets out of which to pay a judgment, you may need to turn to your uninsured motorist coverage. Many individuals worry that the insurance carrier will raise their rates if they make a claim for uninsured motorist benefits with their own carrier. However, New Mexico law prohibits a carrier from raising the rates of an individual for making a claim for uninsured motorist benefits.
All insurance carriers are required to offer their insureds uninsured motorist coverage. Even if you do not have uninsured motorist benefits listed on your insurance policy, you may still be covered if the insurance company that sold you insurance did not have you sign all the proper forms. At Whitener Law Firm, we have been able to obtain uninsured coverage for many individuals who did not actually pay for uninsured motorist benefits.
If you are injured in a car accident with an uninsured motorist, then you should contact Whitener Law Firm to determine the best way to proceed. After a Crash, Don’t Accept Quick Cash… call Whitener Law Firm, P.A. for New Mexico Lawyers who know New Mexico law. For a FREE CONSULTATION to find out if you have a wrongful death case, contact us ONLINE or at 883-RUSS. Let Whitener Law Firm fight for you.