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Accidents involving uninsured drivers: Who pays?

Traffic accidents are stressful. Insurance issues alone can be extremely complicated - all the more so when you're the victim of a hit-and-run, or when you find out the other driver doesn't have insurance.

Although Colorado law requires all drivers to carry minimum insurance coverage, many don't. In fact, roughly one in eight drivers doesn't have any insurance. And, in the case of hit-and-runs, the perpetrator may never be identified, leaving you empty-handed.

Among drivers who do have insurance, the minimum coverage often isn't enough. These minimums - $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for bodily injury - might not come close to covering your medical expenses after a serious accident. When severe injuries or fatalities are involved, the medical bills can rapidly exceed six figures.

Understanding UM/UIM coverage

So what happens in these unfortunate situations?

Certainly you - the responsible insurance-carrying driver who wasn't primarily at fault - shouldn't have to cover the costs.

Fortunately, most auto insurance policies include uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Colorado law requires insurers to automatically include this coverage unless you decline it in writing. When the at-fault driver doesn't have enough insurance (or any insurance), or it's a hit-and-run, your own insurance will fill in the gap up to the policy limits.

Protecting your rights

Pursuing this coverage can be tricky. Whenever you're dealing with an insurance company, you're likely to face lowball offers and pressure to settle quickly for far less than what your case is worth. You should never expect the insurance company to be on your side. Instead, enlist an attorney to fight for your interests and sort out the insurance complexities, giving you the time and energy to focus on what matters most - recovery.

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