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What happens when a driver is uninsured in a crash?

Nobody is above the law. And yet, many Pennsylvania residents still refuse to follow vital laws on the books, which causes great harm to others in the state.

For instance, a motorist's negligence can lead to serious injury to others on the road when the motorist fails to follow the rules of the road. Whether it is speeding, failing to yield or violating other traffic laws, the motorist's negligence can have a life-changing impact on those injured in the crash.

Making matters worse, the negligent motorist may have violated state law by not carrying automobile owners' insurance. Forty-nine states, including Pennsylvania, require drivers to carry auto liability insurance in order to legally operate their vehicle. Despite these laws, however, many individuals still fail to carry insurance. Indeed, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, about 13 percent of motorists are uninsured.

This can cause serious issues when there are underinsured motorist or uninsured motorist crashes. The injured party's ability to collect compensation may be hampered when there are no insurance proceeds to go after. However, insurance is not the only means of paying compensation for one's injuries in a crash. The motorist at fault in the accident can have a judgment entered against him or her personally, which means the injured party can go after that motorist's assets to collect on the judgment.

This has important ramifications. First, individuals should ensure their own insurance coverage complies with state law and is at the level it needs to be in the event they are involved in an auto accident. Second, when individuals are involved in a crash and the other motorist is underinsured or uninsured, the injured person should understand his or her options for obtaining compensation in lieu of the insurance proceeds.

Source: National Association of Insurance Commissioners, "Uninsured Motorists," Feb. 18, 2015

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