Last night I was struck by a drunk driver. I was sitting at a stop light (it was red) and he hit me from behind with a small Saab coupe. He pushed my truck over a car length into the intersection. Both vehicles are totaled. I find out today, that he is uninsured. He was obviously intoxicated and was taken in on DUI.
My passenger has confirmed injuries and was taken to the ER. She can barely move today, is on medication and I am suffering from muscle spasms and will be visiting a physician tomorrow. I've been told I will have to pay my insurance deductible because he has no coverage.
What types of recourse do I have? It seems unfair that he will likely get a slap on the wrist when our lives have been damaged. I've missed work, have no transportation, will have medical bills, etc.Meant to say he had no lights on while driving. Also, its estimated that he was driving 50+ mph on a 35 mph street from the damage he caused. My passenger and I had seatbelts on and cop ruled I had no fault in the accident. He was charged with 1st offense misdemeanor DUI, failure to carry insurance and careless driving. Personally I think it should be an aggravated DUI charge accompanied by a reckless driving. I guess we will see what the DA does with it tomorrow.
The other driver's fault for the injury is relatively obvious from your description of the incident. You have the right to be made whole from your injuries - medical bills paid, wage loss paid, non-economic damages for pain and suffering paid. The question is whether you have a remedy - a pool of funds from which you can be made whole. The at-fault driver may not have the resources to do so himself. If he carried no insurance, you cannot turn to his insurance company to compensate you on his behalf.
Finding insurance coverage is a special part of a personal injury attorney's skill set. You may have carried your own coverage to step into his shoes and compensate you for his negligence. There may be state benefits available to crime victims. You may be able to recover your deductible, though perhaps not your whole collection of damages, through a Court restitution award.
Most personal injury attorneys offer free, no obligation consultations and work on a contingency fee where you pay only based on what you recover from an insurance company for your case and without any up-front costs. I strongly recommend that you consult with an attorney in your area to get a better sense of your rights and available remedies.
This is a complex issue. If you have Uninsured motorist coverage on your own insurance, then you must begin to pursue that claim. If you do not have that coverage you are in a real pickle. If you don't have uninsured coverage, you must attempt to be compensated out of the other driver's own money, not insurance. An attorney would definitely be needed for that. It is typically always a good idea to simply speak to an attorney to go over all of your choices in complicated matters like yours.
I'm very sorry to hear about your situation. The first question I would ask you is whether you have uninsured motorist protection. Your insurance agent will be able to tell you whether you have this coverage. This is your best chance of recovering anything for you and your passenger.
Also, just because the drunk driver does not have insurance does not mean that you cannot recover damages against him. If he is wealthy or has any appreciable assets, you can simply sue him. Although you will probably not get all that you are entitled to, it is better than nothing (if you do not have uninsured motorist coverage) and it will certainly teach him a lesson if he has to pay out of pocket for the damages he caused you.
This is VERY general information that is not intended to be construed as a legal opinion or legal advice. No attorney client relationship has been formed. This is based on the limited information presented to me, and should not be relied upon. Anyone seeking a legal answer to this question should consult an attorney and describe the situation more completely.
If the at fault driver that hit you was DUI you can seek restitution through the state attorney as a condition of any sentence that the court imposes on that indvidual in the criminal case. In addition if you have insurance you can proceed through your own insurance for the repairs to your vehicle and they will seek subrogation (reimbursement) from the at fault driver. If you are in Florida your own PIP insurance covers your medical bills up to $10,000 and after that if you have health insurance that would kick in to cover medical bills in excess of your PIP coverage. If you carry uninsured motorist coverage (UM) you should pursue a claim under your own UM which takes the place of liability coverage that the uninsured driver failed to carry. Ultimately you may end up pursuing a lawsuit against the at fault driver, however if he was uninsured it is possible that he is uncollectable and any judgment you get against him may be unenforceable.
Since the adverse driver is apparently uninsured, you will need to make your claim through your available uninsured motorist coverages.You should obtain needed medical care and treatment immediately and follow the doctor's advice. Do not give any statement to the adverse party or insurance company nor grant them access to any medical records. Photograph the injuries and the damage done to any property. Contact a personal injury attorney in your area as soon as possible so that you can protect your rights. You may also find it helpful to review the Legal Guides I have published on Avvo.com dealing with many of the issues you are now facing.
Remember, your uninsured motorist carrier or carriers are your adversary in this matter. Their sole goal will be to pay you nothing or as little as possible on your claim. You should retain counsel to protect you before trying to navigate the seas of uninsured motorist coverage.
If this information has been helpful, please indicate below.
Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.
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