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NJ Car Accident Law: What Happens if the Driver At Fault Does not Have Car Insurance?

Philip Ciprietti, NJ Car & Truck Accident Lawyer

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All New Jersey drivers who own a car, truck or SUV registered in this state must carry auto insurance for their vehicles.  If drivers do not own a car, but drive a family member’s car, they must be covered under the relative’s car insurance policy, i.e., their parent or spouse’s policy.  If an insured driver causes an accident, the insured driver’s liability coverage would come into play and pay for the injured victims’ damages and injuries, up to the limit purchased. Under NJ car insurance laws, the minimum liability coverage required for NJ car insurance policies is $15,000 per person, up to $30,000 per single accident.

The Importance of Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage in NJ

Unfortunately, some NJ drivers violate the law and drive on NJ roadways and highways without auto insurance coverage. What happens to a victim who sustains injuries and damages as the result of a car accident caused by an uninsured driver? In this situation, the injured victim’s own car insurance policy becomes very important.  If the injured victim has an applicable car insurance policy, i.e., her own car insurance policy or she is covered under her parent, spouse or relative’s car insurance policy, she may file an uninsured motorist (UM) claim with the applicable insurance company.

What is UM Coverage?

UM coverage is a type of coverage that comes into play when the other driver who caused the car accident does not have insurance coverage.  For example, if an insured driver is hit head-on by an uninsured driver and sustains serious injuries, the injured insured driver would not usually recover financial compensation from the uninsured driver.  Instead, the injured insured driver would file a UM claim with her own car insurance policy to obtain financial recovery for the damages sustained, up to the limit purchased.

When purchasing a car insurance policy, the insured can choose to buy or decline UM coverage.  It is not mandatory for an insured driver to carry UM coverage; however, it must be offered to the buyer by the insurance adjuster.

What is UIM Coverage?

UM coverage goes hand in hand with underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage.  Whatever amount of coverage a driver chooses for UM is the same amount of coverage for UIM.  UIM applies when the driver at fault has insurance, but the liability coverage is not enough to compensate the injured victim for her injuries.  For example, a driver who causes a car accident only has minimum liability coverage ($15,000), and the other, innocent driver sustains serious injuries and damages which exceed $15,000. The injured victim would file a UIM claim with her own car insurance carrier after first recovering the $15,000 from the insurance company of the driver at fault. For more information about NJ UIM claims, see NJ Car and Truck Accident Lawyer Talks About When to File an Uninsured/Underinsured (UM/UIM) Motorist Claim in a Car or Truck Accident.

If a driver declines UIM/UM coverage, she has to sign a form to decline coverage.  If an insured driver was never offered UIM/UM coverage by the insurance adjuster and/or did not sign a form declining coverage, the insured driver may still be eligible for UIM coverage if she needs to file a UIM claim after a car accident.

Help Filing a UIM/UM Claim in NJ

Filing a UIM/UM claim in New Jersey can be overwhelming and complicated.  It is best to seek the help of a NJ car accident injury lawyer who understands NJ auto insurance and car accident law.  Call Philip T. Ciprietti, Esq. to schedule a free consultation. Mr. Ciprietti has been representing injured victims for over 35 years in New Jersey. 800-281-8695

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