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Guide to Handling A Car Accident With an Uninsured Motorist

In Maine, uninsured motorist coverage, commonly referred to as UM, is required by law for all drivers. The minimum policy coverage is $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident, representing one of the US’s highest bodily injury liability insurance requirements. UM covers injuries, not damages, caused by an “at-fault” driver with insufficient coverage. The coverage extends to you and your family members who may sustain injuries in an accident, even if you are in another car or out biking or walking. UM does not cover any injuries that the at-fault driver may sustain.

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What is UM Liability Coverage in Maine?

The UM liability coverage you carry as a Maine driver applies in several circumstances. UM applies when an at-fault driver injures a person without insurance if an at-fault driver cannot be identified after a hit-and-run or has stolen the car, if the person is driving another person’s car without permission, or if their insurance policy has lapsed or has been canceled. UM also covers you if an at-fault driver is underinsured.

Maine is one of 24 states that require drivers to carry UM insurance. The number of uninsured drivers per capita is 4.9%—up from 4.5%—but is still the fourth lowest in the country. Nevertheless, despite the low numbers per capita of uninsured drivers, there are still uninsured drivers on the road. And that 4.9 percentage does not include underinsured drivers, representing a whole other set of problems when those drivers are at-fault in an accident. When a driver is underinsured, their insurance is inadequate and provides limited coverage in the event of a serious accident in which they are at fault. 

Because Maine is an “at-fault” state, drivers must carry liability insurance on their policies. The coverage protects drivers from legal liability should they be in a car accident. However, in practice, there’s a good chance that the driver who hits you is carrying the minimum liability insurance required by law, which will not cover the cost of damages and injuries. Or it may be that driver’s liability insurance does not cover the type of injuries that result from the accident. 

In either case, that’s where your policy’s “uninsured motorist” liability coverage comes into play. Whether the at-fault driver who strikes you has no liability insurance or insufficient insurance coverage, your policy’s uninsured motorist coverage covers the gaps in compensation and payments. 

Have You Been In an Accident with an Uninsured At-Fault Driver?

If you are involved in a car accident with an uninsured or underinsured at-fault driver, if you are physically able to, you would still follow the same steps as in any car accident.

First, assess the situation, stay calm and take control. Call 9-1-1 to report the accident, even if it is minor. Accident reports are necessary for any insurance claim. Safety is another first concern. At night, turn your emergency flashers on (if they work) and move your car to the side of the road (if you can). Look for the car that hit you and note its make, model, color, and license plate—take pictures with your cell phone (if you can) of the car, accident, and damage as soon as possible. If it is an uninsured motorist, the driver may leave the scene. If the driver stays, they may be reluctant to exchange contact information if uninsured. If they refuse, do not escalate the tension—avoid abusive language, insults, or interaction if they act aggressively toward you. 

Attention to medical care is vital. Any serious injuries need immediate attention. It’s important to note that even in minor accidents, a reaction to an injury may not be immediate or obvious. In fact, it could take a day or more before your body reacts. Therefore, never refuse medical care when offered after a car accident. Never tell the ET or anyone, “I’m okay” or “Everything is fine.” The shock, anger, or adrenaline from the accident could mask the effects of serious injury that could surface a day or days later. Refusing medical treatment after an accident can also give the insurance company a reason to argue your injuries weren’t caused by the crash.

Finally, make sure that you inform your insurance company of the accident. If the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured, your UM insurance coverage will provide you and other injured parties with the same coverage had the UM at-fault driver been fully covered. 

Contacting a Maine Personal Injury Lawyer

If you are hurt by an uninsured (or underinsured) motorist, or if your insurance company is balking or not providing the full UM coverage due, contact one of the experienced car accident attorneys at Hardy, Wolf & and Downing about filing an uninsured motorist claim. We are one of Maine’s most trusted law firms and will work on your behalf to ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled to.

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