It's a beautiful day. You're enjoying your commute. You pull into an intersection when, out of nowhere, a vehicle slams into your passenger side door. Shaken, you try to figure out if you're hurt - your car definitely is. You get out to exchange information with the other driver and find out that they don't have insurance. What do you do now?
This is a nasty situation that many people find themselves in each year. Usually the at-fault driver's insurance would cover the cost of medical bills, vehicle repair and other costs. But what if that person doesn't have insurance? Is the person who got hit out of luck? The answer is both yes and no.
One steadfast answer is that you should always consult with a personal injury attorneyafter a serious accident. They will do everything in their power to help you find the resources you need to get back on your feet as quick as possible.
Pennsylvania's stance on uninsured/underinsured drivers
The short answer to whether you are out of luck when an uninsured driver damages you or your car is: yes. If the other driver doesn't have liability coverage, or their coverage doesn't meet the cost of your damages, it will be difficult to gain any compensation.
The long answer is no, you are not out of luck because your own insurance might cover you. While it is not required in Pennsylvania, auto insurance policies offer uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage for exactly this situation. If your policy includes UM or UIM coverage, you are in the clear. The two types of coverage may even compound on each other for a larger award.
What will become of the uninsured driver?
Serious damage to yourself and your vehicle is aggravating. It is natural to want to see justice served to the careless motorist who couldn't even be bothered to buy insurance. Fortunately, Pennsylvania does not take kindly to such behavior.
It is the law that all motorists must have a minimum amount of liability insurance. According to the PA Department of Transportation, any motorist caught driving without insurance will face the following penalties and fines:
- $300 minimum fine
- 3-month suspension of their vehicle's registration
- 3-month suspension of their driver's license
- Restoration fee to reinstate their vehicle's registration
- Restoration fee to reinstate their driver's license
- Restoration fee to reinstate their commercial driver's license (if they have one)
- The vehicle may not be used by anyone while the registration is suspended
It may not cover the cost of medical bills or autobody work, but you will at least know that justice is served to the careless party.
Consider adding UM and UIM coverage to your policy if you aren't covered already. It is the easiest way to sidestep the time and stress investment of dealing with an uninsured driver. If you do find yourself in an accident, advocate for yourself and speak to a professional.