uninsured drivers in an accidentDealing with auto insurance coverage after an accident can sometimes be very complex. In some situations, locating an insurance policy that would cover the injuries and losses you sustained in a car accident can be difficult. Generally, when someone is seriously injured in a car accident caused by another driver, the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy is available to cover the accident victim’s injuries and damages. But what happens when the other driver doesn’t have insurance or you cannot identify the other driver or vehicle? There is uninsured motorist coverage available from your own auto insurance policy that would be available.

However, there are also situations where neither the other driver nor the accident victim have auto insurance. What happens then? There still may be insurance coverage available. The best thing you can do if you find yourself in this situation is to consult with an specialized Massachusetts car accident injury lawyer. An experienced attorney can evaluate your accident case and determine if there is an auto insurance policy that would cover your injuries and losses. One consideration, discussed below, is a household member’s insurance policy.

Overview of Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Massachusetts

Uninsured Motorist Coverage is a portion of your own auto insurance policy that is available to cover injuries and losses caused by a negligent driver that did not have auto insurance. Likewise, uninsured coverage would be available in a hit and run accident or where the identity of the other driver or vehicle is unknown. Uninsured coverage is compulsory in Massachusetts. This means that all drivers must carry uninsured coverage. The accident victim would need to have his or her own policy to access the uninsured motorist coverage in these types of situations. But what if the accident victim did not have their own auto insurance policy? There still may coverage available.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage for a Household Member

If the accident victim does not have his or her own auto insurance policy or is not a named insured on any policy and is injured in an accident caused by an uninsured driver or in a hit and run accident, they may look to a household member’s insurance policy for coverage. In Massachusetts, if the accident victim is a household member of a named insured on any policy, the uninsured motorist coverage may be recovered. A household member refers to someone living with the named insured and is related to them by blood, marriage or adoption.

Let’s look at an example to see how a household policy would apply: We represented a young woman who was stuck by a car while she was walking on the sidewalk in Boston. The car drove off and our client couldn’t get the license plate number of the car that hit her. She was seriously injured in the accident and accumulated nearly $20,000 in medical bills and spent a significant amount of time out of work. The problem was that she didn’t know who hit her and did not own a car and, thus, didn’t have her own auto insurance policy. So, she couldn’t look to her own auto insurance policy for uninsured motorist coverage.

This young woman lived with her parents at the time of the accident, who had their own vehicles and their own auto insurance policies. We were able to successfully file an uninsured motorist claim with her father’s auto insurance carrier and recovered over $100,000 for this young woman.

Initially, this woman thought she was out of luck, until she consulted with Mahnaey & Pappas, LLP.  An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to fully evaluate your accident case and know where to look for insurance coverage in order to seek and obtain the financial compensation they deserve for their injuries and losses after an accident.

The Importance of the Amount of Uninsured Motorist Coverage

The amount of auto insurance coverage is very important in injury cases. Having enough coverage enables accident victims to obtain the compensation they deserve for injuries and damages suffered in a crash.

We always recommend that drivers in Massachusetts review their auto insurance policies to determine if they have enough uninsured motorist coverage. While uninsured motorist coverage is compulsory (mandatory), the minimum amount required in Massachusetts is $20,000/$40,000 ($20,000 per person / $40,000 per accident). In most situations, this is not nearly enough to compensate someone seriously injured in a car accident. This is why we always recommend purchasing additional Uninsured coverage.

In the example above, if the young woman’s father only had the minimum $20,000/$40,000 of uninsured motorist coverage, then the $20,000 coverage per person would have been insufficient to compensate her for her injuries.  Luckily for her, her father had $250,000 of uninsured motorist coverage. This provided our client with ample insurance to cover her injures and losses she suffered in the hit-and-run accident.

Uninsured drivers are prevalent, and the percentage of uninsured drivers has increased since 2010. The data examined for 2015 by the Insurance Research Council found that 6.2% of all drivers in Massachusetts were uninsured. This placed Massachusetts at number 49 in the United States. That’s not too bad especially considering that Florida was ranked number one with 26.7% of uninsured drivers. Regardless, you don’t want to find yourself seriously injured in an accident with an uninsured driver or in a hit-and-run accident and not have enough insurance coverage available. So, do yourself and your family a favor and review your auto insurance policies.

Charles S. Pappas
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Massachusetts injury lawyer & workers' compensation attorney serving accident victims in Webster & Framingham.
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