I Was Hit by an Uninsured/Under-Insured Motorist. What Should I Do?
According to a 2021 report done by the Insurance Research Council (IRC), around 9.3% of drivers in Hawaii are currently uninsured. While this is less than the national average of 12.6%, it still means that if you’re involved in a car accident, there’s a nearly 1 in 10 chance that you’ll be hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
Unfortunately, most individuals don’t know what to do after being hit by an uninsured motorist, and this can have major impacts on your level of care following an accident and your potential compensation from the at-fault driver. To learn more about your options in a situation like this and to speak with an experienced car accident attorney, call us at Ranken, Shnider & Taylor, Attorneys at Law in Maui, Hawaii.
Required Insurance Coverage in Hawaii
First, it’s important to outline what the required car insurance coverage is for motorists. The state of Hawaii requires all drivers to carry proof of coverage in their car at all times in the form of an insurance identification card and you can be fined simply for not having this. Additionally, all drivers are required to carry the following coverage:
Personal Injury Protection (PIP): A minimum of $10,000 per person and passenger to cover both medical and rehabilitative costs associated with an accident
Bodily Injury Liability: At least $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident
Property Damage Liability: At least $10,000 per accident.
There are also optional coverage options that drivers can choose to carry if they like, such as comprehensive and collision, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, wage loss, or death benefits. Per state law, all insurance agents are required to inform you of your options for uninsured and underinsured motorist protection and let you know you’re allowed to decline it. However, you may wish to add this to your policy to help in the eventuality you’re hit by an uninsured driver.
Hawaii Is a No-Fault Insurance State
Making a choice about what insurance you carry and what steps you can take when pursuing compensation requires knowing your options. The key to this is understanding how Hawaii handles car accident claims.
Hawaii is what’s known as a “no-fault” state. This means that each driver’s insurance PIP coverage will be the first to pay out for medical expenses for themselves and any passengers after an accident, regardless of who was at fault. This is in contrast to an “at fault” state, where the driver responsible for the accident occurring is also responsible for paying all damages. Importantly, this provision only applies to medical expenses and not property damage, which the at-fault driver will be responsible for paying.
What this means in practice is that you’ll first need to file a claim through your own policy before you can pursue any damages from the other driver. This process has its advantages because it often means the initial medical bills can be paid faster than waiting for an insurance claim to go through with an adjuster. However, if the injuries are considered “serious” and the expenses exceed the limits of your PIP coverage, then you can pursue a claim or lawsuit with the other driver, but this can prove to be difficult if the other driver was uninsured or underinsured.
Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Provision
Another alternative for getting compensation for injuries after an accident is through your uninsured or underinsured motorist provision, but since this coverage isn’t required, not everyone will have this option. For those who do choose this coverage, you may have a minimum of $20,000 per person when hit by an uninsured driver or in the case of a hit and run.
Steps to Take if You Were Hit by an Uninsured/Under-Insured Motorist
In any car accident, your first step should always be to seek medical attention. This is true regardless of your or the other driver’s insurance coverage. There is nothing more important than the health and safety of those involved in the crash.
You’ll then want to gather as much information as you can from the incident, including contact information from the other driver, contact information from any witnesses who saw the crash take place, and pictures or videos of the scene.
In almost all cases, you’ll also want to contact the police, and you should retain a copy of their report for your records.
Finally, reach out to a local personal injury attorney who can help you through the claims process and ensure you’re taken care of.
Understand Your Rights and Options
If you’re in the Maui, Hawaii, area and have recently been involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, call us at Ranken, Shnider & Taylor, Attorneys at Law for trusted legal guidance. We are prepared to fight for you.