If you live in the Hammond, Gary, Portage, Merrillville, Calumet City, Michigan City, Lake Station, Hobart, and Chesterton areas and regularly travel on I-94 or I-80, you may notice quite a few accidents during your travels. This is especially true during harsh Indiana winters when the roads get slippery.
If you were to ever get in an accident, would you know what to do? What about if you got in a collision with an uninsured driver? Before getting on the road again, make sure you know the Indiana laws that address these scenarios.
Indiana Car Insurance Laws
Indiana state law says that drivers who are at fault for an accident are financially responsible for any damages. These damages can include injuries, vehicle damage, lost income, and anything else related to the accident. Most drivers protect themselves from these financial responsibilities by getting car insurance coverage. Your insurance can cover these damages in the event of a crash within the limits of your policy.
Indiana has set minimums for liability car insurance coverage. All drivers must carry a policy that has at least $25,000 for bodily injury or death of one person, $50,000 for total bodily injury or death liability, and $25,000 for property damage in the event of an accident caused by the driver of the insured vehicle.
These minimums ensure that you have enough coverage for property damage and medical bills for everyone involved in the accident. You may want to consider additional coverage in the case of a serious accident. Once your limit runs out, you are financially responsible for damages, so extensive coverage can protect you in cases where severe damages occur.
What Are the Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance in Indiana?
If you fail to meet Indiana’s motor vehicle financial responsibility laws, you may face multiple penalties. For your first violation of these requirements, the state may suspend your driving privileges. You also may have to carry SR-22 insurance from that point forward.
SR-22 insurance is a document that your insurance company sends Indiana, which lets the state know that you have an active policy that meets the state’s requirements. You need this document to reinstate your driving privileges after you are caught without the proper coverage. Although the processing fee for an SR-22 isn’t usually expensive, car insurance companies may add surcharges to your policy for needing one. Some insurers may even deny you coverage if you have an SR-22.
Each time your driving privileges are revoked, you must pay a reinstatement fee. For your first offense, this fee is usually $250. For additional offenses, the length of your revoked license increases, and so does your reinstatement fee. You also have to file an SR-22 for a longer period of time, and your car’s registration can be suspended.
What Should I Do If I’m Hit by an Uninsured Driver?
Protect yourself from uninsured drivers by getting a policy that includes uninsured motorist insurance (UMI). UMI protects you if an uninsured driver were to injure you. UMI covers your medical bills, lost wages, emotional suffering, physical pain, and property damage caused by an uninsured driver. It also covers any passengers in your vehicle who were injured by the uninsured driver. UMI may also provide you with coverage in the event of a hit and run.
If you do have UMI coverage and the at-fault driver is uninsured, you need to file an uninsured motorist claim with your insurer and provide evidence that the other driver is at fault. Along with getting the medical care you need, it’s important to call the police after a car accident so that they can file a report. Their report may help your claim go through. In cases where your insurance company fails to pay your claim, you may need to meet with a Northwest Indiana Car Accident Lawyer.
If you have car insurance that complies with Indiana law, you likely have UMI. If you want to opt-out of UMI, you would need to reject it in writing when you purchase your policy. It would be unwise to do so, however, because then you may be financially responsible for your damages, even if the uninsured driver is at fault. You could try to file a personal injury lawsuit against the uninsured driver, but if they don’t have car insurance, they probably won’t have money to pay a lawsuit settlement either.
What Should I Do If I Hit Someone Without Car Insurance?
Since Indiana is an at-fault state, you would be responsible for all of the damages you caused in an accident. These damages may include property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and anything else caused by the accident. Even if you are at fault, make sure to take plenty of pictures of the scene, including the vehicles and those involved in the accident. These pictures can serve as powerful evidence that may help you and your insurance company later on, especially in the event of a personal injury case.
What Is No Pay, No Play?
The No Pay, No Play statute applies to uninsured motorists who sustain injuries or property damage in an accident. This statute says that if an insured driver is at fault, the uninsured driver may not collect payment for noneconomic damages like pain and suffering or physical impairment. This statute applies to uninsured motorists who did not have the minimum liability insurance during the accident and have prior violations in accordance with Indiana’s motor vehicle financial responsibility laws.
Why You May Need More Coverage in Northwest Indiana
Drivers who are more at risk may want additional car insurance coverage. For example, Northwest Indiana experiences harsh winters, making roads more unsafe. Slushy roads and black ice cause many car accidents in the Midwest. This is why you might consider a policy that covers weather-related claims.
Likewise, if you regularly travel along busy highways such as I-94 and I-80, you may be more at risk for a high-speed collision. Semi-trucks that travel on these highways also pose a higher threat for truck-related accidents. Protect yourself by getting the proper insurance that could cover extensive damages.
Planning for a potential car accident or collision is never fun, but it’s absolutely necessary. If you ever find that you’re in an accident with an uninsured motorist, make sure you document the accident and take the proper steps to protect yourself and your passengers. If you have any additional questions about your rights in the event of a car accident, reach out to Alvarez Law today.