The traffic collision that led to your hospitalization for severe injuries was worrisome enough. You will likely be out of work for a while, face huge medical bills, and need time to focus on recovery. In most cases, the at-fault driver is insured, and their car insurance company will ultimately be responsible for compensating you for your personal injuries and losses.
Now imagine that you learn the at-fault driver was uninsured. How can a personal injury lawyer help? Too often, this is a reality faced by personal injury victims. Many uninsured drivers also lack personal assets to pursue, meaning they cannot pay out of pocket for your losses. In such cases, your own insurance coverages are often the only ones available to cover damage to your vehicle and your person.
Minnesota requires drivers to carry uninsured motorist insurance
If your vehicle is insured in Minnesota, then you may be able to pursue your injury claims through your own car insurance company. Minnesota requires all licensed vehicles to have coverages for liability/bodily injury, personal injury protection, and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
- Liability/Bodily Injury (BI) coverage would ordinarily be available from the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. Minnesota law requires a minimum coverage of $30,000 per person, $60,000 per crash for injuries to two or more people. But when the at-fault driver is uninsured, it means this kind of coverage is unavailable.
- Your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage will typically cover the first $20,000 of medical bills and $20,000 of economic/wage loss resulting from the crash. This amount can be higher if you have “stacked” coverage, in which case your limits may be greater. Oftentimes, serious injuries can swallow up these PIP benefits very quickly.
- Your Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage can only apply when there is applicable bodily injury coverage available from the wrongdoer. Minnesota requires drivers to carry a minimum of $25,000 policy for injuries to a single person, up to $50,000 per crash for injuries to two or more people. These are minimum coverages, and it is often a good idea to carry higher limits. Some insurers will offer hundreds of thousands in coverage, or more, of uninsured and underinsured coverage.
- Your Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage basically kicks in when the wrongdoers have no car insurance. Just like underinsured motorist coverage, Minnesota law requires drivers to carry a minimum policy of $25,000/$50,000. It is often prudent to carry higher limits, as these minimums will likely not begin to cover your past and future losses in the event of a serious or catastrophic injury, or if you are out of work for an extended period of time and are a high-income earner.
Uninsured Motorist coverage provides important protection for victims who suffer an injury in a collision caused by an uninsured driver, because this coverage creates an avenue for compensation for the injuries you suffered in the crash.
With regard to property damage, if you have “collision” coverage in your car insurance policy, it will cover damage to your vehicle caused by an uninsured driver. This coverage is optional in Minnesota, and is frequently one of the most expensive items of coverage you may have on your policy. If there is a loan on your vehicle, it is very likely that this coverage was required by the lienholder or dealership. In many cases, this can be a financially life-saving coverage in the event of a collision with an uninsured driver that caused significant damage or a total loss to your vehicle.
Nearly 10% of state drivers are uninsured
Uninsured motorists are out there. A 2021 study by the Insurance Information Institute noted that nearly 10% of Minnesotans drive without insurance. That number is below the national average of 12.6%, but it is still a frightening statistic. Comparatively, the state with the most uninsured drivers is Mississippi with 29.4%. Minnesota has fewer uninsured drivers than neighboring states Iowa (11.3%), North Dakota (13%), and Wisconsin (13.3%), but more than South Dakota (7.4%).
Insurance that protects you
It is easy to forget how important it is to buy insurance to protect yourself. Advertisements by insurance companies often boast low rates, but with low rates may come low coverages. For many drivers, higher rates with better coverage should be strongly considered. Victims too often do not realize the importance of Uninsured and Underinsured coverage until they get into a serious collision. You may find it is wise to review and secure appropriate coverages, not necessarily the “cheapest” coverages, to protect you and your family in the event of a serious crash. If you are injured by an uninsured driver, a personal injury attorney can help you pursue claims through your own Uninsured Motorist policy.