Being in a car accident can be a traumatic and confusing experience under any circumstances. However, when the at-fault driver is uninsured, it presents additional challenges that many crash victims are unsure how to navigate.
If you were recently involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist here in Las Vegas, you likely have a lot of questions about what comes next. Can I file a claim? What are my options for recouping damages? Am I entitled to compensation even though the other driver has no insurance?
This guide will walk you through the key considerations in these difficult situations. With over 40 years of personal injury expertise specific to Nevada, the legal team at Jack Bernstein Injury Lawyers is here to help accident victims recover the maximum compensation they deserve. When you’ve been injured by the negligence of an uninsured driver, having Jack on your side can make all the difference.
– Burden of proof falls more on insured driver without insurance company help. – Police report, medical records, witness statements key for evidence. – Consult a lawyer to establish negligence under state laws.
– Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage can help pay for injuries/damages. – Collision coverage pays for vehicle repairs. – Medical payments and PIP help with medical bills.
Lawsuits & Damages
– Consider injury severity, evidence, assets when deciding if to sue. – Can potentially get fuller compensation but collecting is challenging. – Economic, non-economic, and sometimes punitive damages can be sought.
Small Claims Court
– For cases seeking less than $10,000 in damages. – Informal rules, no lawyers. – Good for clear-cut cases with documented economic damages.
Determining Fault in Accidents with Uninsured Drivers
Establishing fault takes on greater importance when an uninsured driver causes an accident in Nevada. Unlike collisions involving insured motorists, the injured party typically shoulders the burden of proving the uninsured driver’s liability, rather than relying on insurance companies to investigate fault. This often necessitates complex legal action to receive compensation.
Key Differences in the Fault Determination Process
When both drivers have insurance, companies investigate fault. With an uninsured driver, the injured person must collect evidence and build a claim themselves.
The injured party carries the burden of proof against the uninsured driver. Their own UM/UIM coverage has lower payout limits.
Legal action and more complex lawsuits are often needed to establish an uninsured driver’s liability.
Report the accident to your insurer within 24 hours or other policy timeline to engage uninsured motorist coverage.
Consult an attorney about next steps, evidence needed, and preserving your right to sue the at-fault driver.
Comprehensive documentation in the hours and days following the crash lays the groundwork for determining fault and pursuing compensation down the road. An experienced personal injury lawyer can advise on evidence collection and timely insurance notifications to protect your interests following the trauma of an accident.
Types of Insurance Coverage
If you are injured in an auto accident caused by an uninsured driver, there are two main types of insurance that can help cover your losses – auto insurance and medical insurance. Understanding how these insurance coverages work is critical for obtaining the maximum compensation you deserve.
Auto Insurance Coverage Requirements in Nevada
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage provides compensation when the at-fault driver has no insurance. Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage provides compensation when the at-fault driver’s limits are insufficient to cover your damages.
Coverage limits, exclusions, and claim reporting requirements apply. Promptly report accidents even if fault is disputed.
Collision coverage pays for repairs to your vehicle regardless of fault. UM/UIM covers injuries and damages caused by the uninsured/underinsured driver. The two work together to provide comprehensive protection.
For example, if an uninsured driver hits you:
Collision coverage repairs your car.
UM/UIM coverage pays your medical bills and lost wages.
Medical Insurance Coverage
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) pays for medical expenses like hospital bills, doctor visits, therapy, and prescriptions, up to specified dollar and time limits. PIP coordinates benefits with health insurance. It is important to note PIP coverage is NOT mandatory in the state of Nevada.
Medical Payments (MedPay) Coverage
MedPay also covers medical expenses resulting from an accident, with set coverage maximums. It similarly coordinates with other health insurance.
How PIP and MedPay Work
You have $10,000 in medical bills from an accident.
Your PIP policy covers up to $10,000 in medical expenses.
PIP will pay the full $10,000 medical bill.
Additional medical bills would be covered by health insurance.
Consulting with an attorney can help maximize your auto and medical insurance claims after an uninsured driver accident. They can navigate policy limits, exclusions, disputes, and coordination of benefits issues.
Consulting with an attorney is highly recommended to realistically assess the merits of bringing a lawsuit against the uninsured driver based on:
The severity of your damages and injuries
The evidence supporting liability
The resources and assets of the defendant
More serious injuries involving substantial losses warrant legal action to pursue additional compensation beyond insurance limits. But if damages are relatively minor, an insurance settlement may suffice.
Obtaining a Judgment
If successful in court, the plaintiff is granted a judgment ordering the defendant to pay damages. But collecting on judgments from uninsured drivers can be extremely challenging.
Uninsured defendants often lack sufficient income or assets to pay.
Additional legal action may be needed to try garnishing wages or placing property liens.
Only about one-third of judgments against uninsured drivers are fully collected.
Weighing the high costs and risks against potential rewards of suing requires an honest assessment of the realities of judgment collections.
Small Claims Court: An Alternative for Minor Cases
For accidents involving fairly minor injuries and lower financial losses, small claims court can provide an affordable and quicker legal alternative compared to traditional court.
Nevada’s small claims courts handle cases seeking $10,000 or less in damages.
Plaintiffs represent themselves and present evidence like repair estimates, medical records, and witness statements.
Appeal of judgments is possible but limited.
Small claims suits may be feasible for recovering clearly documented out-of-pocket expenses from an uninsured driver, like vehicle repair bills, lost pay from missed work, and copays for emergency medical treatment.
However, small claims courts lack the procedural formalities, jury trials, discovery processes, and evidentiary standards of traditional courtrooms. For more complex cases with severe injuries or losses, hiring an attorney skilled in personal injury litigation is essential.
Legal Options and Steps in Pursuing a Lawsuit
If attempts to negotiate fair compensation from an uninsured driver fail, filing a personal injury lawsuit may become necessary. Here are key steps in the litigation process:
Consult an experienced attorney – Personal injury law can be complex, and having legal counsel assess your case is highly advisable before proceeding with litigation. They can provide guidance on viable legal theories, potential damages, and likelihood of success.
File before the statute of limitations expires – In Nevada, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. Missing this deadline will bar your claim, so consulting a lawyer early is important.
Draft and file initial pleadings – Your attorney will prepare the crucial complaint outlining your allegations, legal theories like negligence, and specific damages sought. The complaint and summons must then be properly served on the defendant.
Engage in discovery – This information-gathering stage involves requesting relevant documents, conducting depositions to question parties under oath, issuing interrogatories requiring written answers from defendants, and seeking physical exams if injuries are disputed.
Consider and argue motions – Your lawyer may file motions seeking certain court orders, like a motion to compel if the defendant is uncooperative in discovery. Hearings will be held to argue key motions.
Engage in settlement negotiations – The majority of cases settle out of court. Your lawyer can negotiate aggressively on your behalf and communicate demands clearly and forcefully.
Proceed to trial – If no settlement is reached, your lawyer will zealously argue your case at trial, presenting favorable evidence and witnesses.
Role of Legal Representation
Retaining experienced counsel when pursuing an uninsured driver is crucial for maximizing your chances of a successful outcome. An auto accident attorney provides:
Legal expertise – Lawyers possess specialized knowledge of applicable laws, court procedures, and case strategies to optimize your outcome.
Objective guidance – Lawyers take the emotion out and provide candid case assessments, so you can make informed decisions.
Insurance dispute management – Lawyers act as advocates against the insurer, fighting improper denials and maximizing payouts.
Thorough investigation – Lawyers utilize investigators, experts, and research to build a rock-solid case.
Courtroom skills – From pleadings to discovery to trial, every stage demands legal skills that lawyers have.
Reduced stress – By managing the legal process, lawyers allow you to focus on recovery while your rights are protected.
Leveling the playing field – Uninsured drivers often have lawyers defending them. You need that same expertise fighting for you.
With so much at stake, a lawyer’s counsel and representation can prove invaluable after an accident with an uninsured driver.
Suing Uninsured Drivers in NV FAQs
How do I determine fault in an accident with an uninsured driver?
Police reports, eyewitness accounts, video footage, and forensic evidence help establish fault. Consult a lawyer to analyze negligence and liability factors under state law. The burden of proof falls more heavily on the insured driver vs. insurance company investigations with insured drivers.
What insurance coverages can help me if I’m in an accident with an uninsured driver?
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, medical payments, and personal injury protection can provide compensation for injuries and damages. Collision coverage helps pay for vehicle repairs. Understand your policy provisions, limits, and claim requirements.
What are some key limitations or exclusions of uninsured motorist coverage I should be aware of?
Per person and per accident payout limits, exclusions for certain damage types, required policyholder premium payments and policy compliance, and prompt claim reporting time limits. Review your specific policy.
Is it worth suing an uninsured driver and what are my chances of collecting damages?
Factors include injury severity, available evidence, and the uninsured driver’s assets. A lawyer can advise if strong damages and liability evidence exist to potentially pursue additional compensation beyond insurance limits. But collecting judgments can be very difficult.
How does Small Claims Court work for cases involving uninsured drivers?
Suits up to $10,000 without attorneys, with informal rules. Feasible for clear-cut cases with well-documented economic damages. Not suitable for complex cases with serious injuries. Appeals are limited.
How does PTSD after an accident impact relationships with family and friends?
PTSD can strain relationships as symptoms like emotional numbness, anger, isolation, and avoidance manifest. Education, communication, patience, and counseling that involves loved ones can help maintain healthy relationships.
What role does a lawyer play in accidents with uninsured drivers?
Advise on fault, insurance, and legal options. Dispute unfair claims practices. Negotiate aggressively and demand maximum settlements. Thoroughly investigate and build your case. Represent your interests in court if necessary. Ease the legal burden.
Navigating Uninsured Driver Accidents with Expertise
Being involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist can leave you facing significant injuries, vehicle damage, and financial stress from mounting medical bills and lost income. Yet, without adequate insurance coverage on the party at fault, recouping the full compensation you deserve becomes complex and challenging.
Taking the proper steps after an accident with an uninsured driver is crucial. Thoroughly documenting evidence establishes negligence, while promptly engaging your uninsured motorist coverage and other applicable policies provides initial compensation sources.
Determining if legal action against the uninsured driver is viable requires weighing factors like injury severity, evidence, and the defendant’s assets and income sources. Small claims suits may suffice for minor clear-cut cases. For complex cases involving substantial losses, experienced legal counsel is key to navigating litigation.
Insurer disputes over liability, coverage limits, medical payments, and fair compensation are also best handled with the guidance of a personal injury lawyer. They have the expertise to protect your interests and maximize your claim value, applying apposite pressure and negotiating tenaciously on your behalf when warranted.
How Jack Bernstein Injury Lawyers Can Help
At Jack Bernstein Injury Lawyers, our in-depth experience with Nevada auto accident cases and passion for helping injured victims fuels skilled, compassionate legal representation. If you have been involved in a collision with an uninsured driver, contact our office for a free consultation. We will help you make informed decisions to determine legal action so you can obtain the maximum recovery of compensation possible. With over 40 years of personal injury expertise, Jack has your back!
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
If you have been injured in an accident due to negligence, contact Jack Bernstein Injury Lawyers for a free, no obligation consultation with experienced Las Vegas accident lawyers. You will gain an advocate for every stage in the claims process until you have the compensation you deserve.
Jack Bernstein Injury Lawyers is available to help you handle your injury claim in the Las Vegas metropolitan area and beyond. Jack Bernstein and his team can offer you the personalized service and legal representation you deserve after an accident.