Every automobile owner in Arkansas is required to carry liability insurance in the event of an accident. Unfortunately, many drivers disregard this obligation and end up causing wrecks without having any insurance.
If you’ve been in a car crash with a driver who either doesn’t have liability insurance or has insufficient coverage to pay for your injuries, what are your legal options? It’s time to speak with the experienced Little Rock car accident lawyers of Denton & Zachary, PLLC.
Arkansas Car Insurance Requirements
Automobile owners must carry liability coverage, which pays for accident claims made against an at-fault driver. The minimum amounts of liability that an automobile owner must carry in Arkansas are:
- $25,000 for bodily injury per person
- $50,000 for bodily injury per accident (with two or more injured people)
- $25,000 for property damage per accident
When an automobile owner applies for liability insurance, the applicant must be offered the chance to purchase uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.
Uninsured motorist coverage protects a driver and his or her automobile if the at-fault motorist does not have liability insurance. Meanwhile, underinsured motorist coverage gives a policyholder extra protection if the at-fault driver lacks sufficient coverage to pay for all of the victim’s injuries and losses.
Together, these are known as UM/UIM insurance.
Why is UM/UIM Insurance Important?
According to the Insurance Research Council, Arkansas has one of the highest percentages of uninsured drivers in the nation (19.3% in 2019). That means about one in five motorists do not have insurance as required by law. This puts every driver at substantial risk of getting into an accident caused by someone without enough insurance to pay for such damages as:
- Medical bills, including ambulance care, hospitalization, surgery, physical therapy, and more
- Lost wages due to time spent recovering from injuries or tending to accident-related matters
- Lost earning ability if the victim cannot return to his or her previous career or work at the same capacity
- Pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and disfigurement
- Wrongful death damages if the victim dies from his or her injuries
- Property damage
These losses could be significant, easily reaching hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more). Such amounts could wreak financial havoc on your family, which is why having uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is so critical.
Why Do Drivers in Arkansas Not Have Auto Insurance?
There are four main reasons Arkansas motorists do not carry liability insurance:
They can’t afford it.
Whether due to a bad economy or a recent job loss, some drivers simply cannot afford to make their insurance premium payments. On top of that, these premiums tend to rise each year, and some people’s incomes simply can’t keep up. When a person has to drive to earn a living but must choose between paying rent and paying insurance, insurance is usually the first expense to go.
They can’t afford high premiums.
A somewhat related problem is that some drivers have been in so many accidents that they can’t afford the resulting premiums. The more accidents you cause, the higher your premiums will be. And it may be some time before those premiums start to decrease. In the meantime, drivers need to drive so they forego insurance.
They don’t want to pay for it.
Some drivers simply don’t care that the law requires them to have liability insurance. They may rationalize this decision by saying “I’m a safe driver,” “I don’t drive that often,” or “I’ve never been in an accident.” Uninsured motorists in Arkansas may even believe that it’s worth the risk of having to pay a fine if they get caught. Of course, this is not only illegal but risky.
They think the other driver will pay for it.
Drivers may not purchase liability coverage because, they reason, the other driver has insurance. This isn’t always the case, of course, especially in a state where one in five drivers are uninsured. And not all insured drivers have UM/UIM policies, either. Regardless, this is still not a valid excuse for breaking the law.
Can You Sue an Uninsured Motorist?
Uninsured motorists in Arkansas can be held personally liable for the injuries and property damage they cause. But should you hire an attorney to pursue a claim against the driver?
Although you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver, there’s a good chance you will never collect. For one, if the driver can’t afford insurance, he or she probably doesn’t have enough property or assets to satisfy a personal injury award. This same principle applies if the driver is underinsured.
Secondly, winning a verdict is one thing but enforcing it is another. Even if you win a favorable damages award, it will be difficult if not impossible to collect from the driver.
How Denton & Zachary, PLLC can help
If you’ve been in an accident with a driver who doesn’t have enough liability insurance to cover your losses, it is critical that you hire an uninsured motorist accident lawyer.
First, your attorney will review the circumstances of your case and decide whether it’s worth pursuing the driver personally. As mentioned above, filing a lawsuit against the driver personally may be challenging. But it’s also possible that the driver does have sufficient assets or property to pay for your damages.
Second, if you have purchased a UM/UIM policy, you may need help pursuing an uninsured motorist claim against your own insurer. Just because you are a policyholder does not mean your insurance company will stand up for you.
Insurers are notorious for finding any excuse possible to underpay or deny payouts to their own customers. Your insurer may even try to blame you for the accident. An uninsured motorist accident lawyer can help compel your insurance company to do what you’ve paid it to do: cover your losses.
We will also fight to explore alternate avenues of recovery. For instance, the accident may have been caused in part by a defective component in your vehicle, making the manufacturer potentially liable.
Let Our Little Rock Attorneys Help With Your Uninsured Motorist Claim
Uninsured motorists in Arkansas will likely remain an ongoing problem. But accident victims do have legal options that we are ready to explore. If you’ve been hurt by someone without enough liability coverage to pay for your damages, reach out to our dedicated personal injury team. Call Denton & Zachary, PLLC or contact us online today.