A claim for injuries caused by an uninsured motorist is similar to most other claims for injuries from a motor vehicle accident. The principal difference is that your own insurance company will be defending against your claim. The uninsured driver may not even be present at any of the proceedings. In fact, if your claim is for damages from a hit-and-run accident, you will not even know the identity of the driver involved.
What follows is a typical sequence of events in a motor vehicle case that involves an uninsured motorist. The exact practices may vary in your state, or your community. An attorney with experience in handling motor vehicle accident cases can tell you what the practices are in your community.
Before your lawsuit begins, your attorney will conduct a thorough investigation of your claim. This investigation will include
While the investigation is going on, your attorney will begin negotiations with your uninsured motorist insurer. If your case cannot be resolved at this stage, a lawsuit will be commenced.
Your uninsured motorist insurer will be served with documents known as a “summons” and “complaint” or, in some states, a “petition”. The summons and complaint let your insurer know that you are suing it and gives the reasons you are suing. Your insurer will send back an “answer,” which sets out the reasons it claims it is not liable. If no answer is served within a certain time, you win your case by default.
After your lawsuit has been started, you may be required to give a “deposition.” At a deposition, you will be paced under oath and asked questions by the attorney for your insurance company. Your answers will be recorded, usually by a court reporter or stenographer. In addition to your deposition, you may be required to answer “interrogatories,” or written questions submitted by the other side.
Your attorney probably will submit interrogatories to the opposition, and, if possible, will probably take the deposition of the driver who injured you. You may also be required to undergo a medical examination by a doctor selected by your insurer to learn the nature and extent of our injuries. In some states, a court order is required before you will be required to undergo such an examination.
Negotiations to resolve your case are likely going on while the other procedures are taking place. If a settlement cannot be reached your case will go to trial. Most injury cases are resolved by agreement before trial is necessary, but it is best to prepare each case as if it will go to court.
Learn More About Uninsured and Underinsured Coverage
Knowing what to expect when you bring a claim for injuries caused by an uninsured motorist can help make the process go more easily for you.