What if the at-fault driver has no insurance?
Massachusetts is a compulsory insurance state, meaning that every motor vehicle on the road is supposed to have liability insurance. The minimum compulsory limits for bodily injury liability are $20,000 per-person, $40,000 per-accident. But despite this requirement, many vehicles on Bay State roads have no insurance. So what happens if you get in an accident with someone who is uninsured?
Fortunately, if you have a Massachusetts auto policy, you definitely have a coverage called Uninsured Motorist coverage (known as “UM”) to provide compensation for you in the event that you are injured by someone who has no insurance. UM coverage is compulsory in Massachusetts, so you’ve got the coverage on your policy even if you didn’t know it.
Under UM coverage, your own insurance company must stand in the shoes of the at-fault uninsured person, which means you can get a settlement or award for your injuries from your own insurance company. When I tell people this, they sometimes express concern that using their own insurance policy will result in a surcharge, but that’s not the case—in Massachusetts, you can only get surcharged for an accident if you are found to be at fault for it. UM coverage is a coverage you’ve been paying for, and you shouldn’t hesitate to use it if you qualify for it.
UM coverage also applies if the at-fault person is an unknown, hit-and- run driver. We’ve even won cases when there was no contact between our client’s vehicle and the at-fault vehicle, as when a motorcyclist is cut off unexpectedly by a driver who pulls out—even if there is no contact with the other vehicle, and even if the other vehicle leaves the scene, there could still be a UM settlement.
When you bring a UM claim, the insurance company will have an interest in minimizing its exposure. This is a complex area of injury law and insurance law. To protect your rights, seek out experienced representation right away after an accident.