What Happens When You Are Involved in an Auto Accident with an Uninsured Driver?

Under New Jersey law, all persons who own a car, truck, or SUV registered in the State of New Jersey must have auto insurance coverage.  If the driver of a motor vehicle does not own their own car, but drives a family member’s automobile, they must be covered under the relative’s auto insurance policy.  In the event a driver covered by an automobile insurance policy causes an automobile accident in New Jersey, their liability coverage would cover the damages caused to any persons injured in the accident, up to the policy’s coverage limits.  In New Jersey, the bare minimum liability insurance coverage required is $15,000 per person, up to $30,000 per accident.

Many drivers in New Jersey, unfortunately, disregard the law and drive without auto insurance.  For those victims who are injured as a result of an auto collision caused by an uninsured driver, the injured party’s own auto insurance policy becomes very important.  If the injured party does have their own auto insurance policy, or if they reside with a relative who has their own auto policy, then he or she can file what is known as an Uninsured Motorist (UM) claim with that policy.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage in New Jersey Auto Accidents

UM coverage kicks in when the at-fault driver does not have automobile insurance.  So, for example, if you are seriously injured in a car accident that was caused by an uninsured driver, rather than recovering from the uninsured driver, you would file a UM claim with your own auto carrier, who would be responsible for compensating you for your damages, up to the policy’s UM coverage limit.  In addition to covering situations, where insured drivers or their household family members are injured by an uninsured driver, UM coverage also provides coverage in phantom driver or hit and run situations.

Not all auto policies have UM coverage, however.   Instead, UM coverage is additional coverage that may either be purchased or declined.  Although the law does not require drivers to carry UM coverage, it must at least be offered to the purchaser by the insurance adjuster.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage in New Jersey Car Accidents

Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage is similar to UM coverage.  Rather than coming into play when struck by an uninsured driver, however, UIM coverage comes into play when an insured is struck by a driver whose auto liability coverage is not enough to compensate the injured parties for their injuries.   So, for example, if your auto policy provided $100,000 in UIM coverage and you were injured by a driver whose auto policy provided only $15,000 in coverage, but your damages were $100,000, you would file a UIM claim against your own insurance company for the remaining $85,000.  Before filing a UIM claim against your own carrier, however, you would first have to recover the $15,000 policy from the at-fault driver.

Support from New Jersey Car Accident Attorneys

If you need help filing a UM or a UIM claim, contact the auto injury attorneys at Harrell, Smith and Williams today at (908) 264-7228.  We understand New Jersey auto insurance and auto accident law and will guide you through these complex insurance issues.  Call us today for a free consultation.

Posted in Auto Accident, automobile insurance, Injured Passengers, Personal Injury.