As a Nashville and Tennessee automobile accident attorney, one question that I am frequently asked is what happens when the person who causes the motor vehicle does not have any liability insurance. Here is the answer?
1. First, don’t assume that there is no liability insurance just because the driver did not have proof of insurance in his or her vehicle at the time of the accident. In Tennessee you are supposed to have proof of insurance present when you drive (most of us keep a card mailed to us by our insurer in the glove compartment of the vehicle) but some people forget to do so or do not replace an expired card with a new card. So, even if the police officer investigating the crash reports that the at-fault driver did not have proof of insurance, it is possible that the driver had liability insurance in place at the time of the crash.
2. It is possible that some other person (other than the driver of the car or the owner of the car) is responsible for the crash. For example, on several occasions we have discovered that an uninsured driver was running an errand for his employer at the time of the crash. Under Tennessee law, the employer is responsible for the crash if the employee was engaged in an activity that was furthering the employer’s business interest at the time of the crash. This is true even if the employee was using the employee’s personal vehicle. From time to time there are others who contributed to cause the crash, such as the bar who served too much alcohol to the at-fault driver, a defect in the roadway; an unsafe or defective vehicle, and in appropriate cases those options need to be investigated as well.
3. The insurance on your vehicle may be available to you. Your "uninsured" or "underinsured" motorist coverage helps to protect you from loss if the driver who hit you is either uninsured or lacks sufficient liability insurance coverage to fully compensate you for your injuries.
4. The assets of the at-fault driver. A person’s financial responsibility for an accident does not stop at the limits of their insurance. Each person is responsible for the harm he or she causes, and liability insurance exists to help limit the direct financial impact of that financial responsibility. (In essence, you pay premiums for liability insurance to minimize the financial impact of a mistake you might make in the future.) For example, we recently resolved a case against the estate of a driver who severely hurt our client. The at-fault driver (who tragically died in the crash) had only $50,000 in liability insurance on her vehicle but had an estate worth several hundred thousand dollars, and we made a claim and recovery against it.
5. The income of the at-fault driver. Some at-fault drivers have a future income stream that can help satisfy their financial responsibility to a person that they hurt or killed in a car or truck accident.
Does this mean that we are always able to collect 100% of the damages that are suffered by a person who is injured in a car, truck or motorcycle accident? No. Unfortunately, many at-fault drivers have inadequate insurance, many drivers who are injured do not have an appropriate level of uninsured / underinsured motorist insurance, and at-fault drivers were not on the business of another at the time of an accident. There are many people who cause accidents who have no assets and little income.
However, we believe it makes sense to hire us to examine all of these options for you and give you advice about the right course of action under your circumstances. If you have been involved in a Tennessee car, truck or motorcycle accident call us for a free consultation at 615.742.4880 or 866-812-8787, Or, fill out this Contact Form and we will call you. As I said above, I cannot guarantee that we will be able to help you recover 100% of the losses you incurred because of someone else’s carelessness, but I can guarantee that we will give you our honest opinion about what avenues need to be explored.