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Tough New Penalties for Uninsured Drivers in 2016

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Following a series of deadly accidents involving uninsured motorists, the Tennessee legislature passed House Bill 606 last summer. The legislation aims to get uninsured drivers off the road once and for all. The bill imposes stiffer fines on uninsured motorists. It also includes a provision for having uninsured cars towed away. Finally, it brings a new state-wide database online so police can more readily determine if a vehicle is insured.

Estimates are that as many as one in eight drivers in the nation do not carry the required level of car insurance for their state. Tennessee has consistently had a higher percentage of uninsured motorists than most states, ranking sixth highest in the nation for 2012. Unfortunately, as the number of uninsured drivers continues to climb, so does the cost of their accidents.

According to the Insurance Research Council's 2014 report, "Uninsured Motorists, 2014 Edition", an estimated $2.6 billion was paid in 2014 to cover wrongful deaths and other damages caused by those driving without insurance. In recent years uninsured drivers have been involved in a number of high profile accidents. In several cases, a person has been killed as the result of such an accident on the road in Tennessee.

Responsible drivers are punished for others lack of adequate coverage by seeing settlements shrink while premiums for auto insurance skyrocket. The new statutes have been designed to make people realize that "saving" by driving without insurance is a very costly option. The state's requirement for insurance stipulates that drivers must carry a minimum coverage level of:

  • $25,000 foreach injury or deathper accident;
  • $50,000 fortotal injuries or deathsper accident; and
  • $15,000 forproperty damageper accident.

What's more, Tennessee drivers must carry proof of insurance whenever they operate a vehicle. Failure to present proof of insurance when an official requests it can also result in stiffer fines.

Many insurance companies offer optional insurance against uninsured motorists at an additional charge. But Tennessee's new scheme targeting uninsured drivers should limit the risks for responsible motorists. Many people find it difficult to reach an adequate settlement when seeking damages for a wrongful death following an accident with an uninsured driver. Working with a wrongful death attorney can be beneficial in reaching a just settlement after losing a loved one in a wreck with an uninsured motorist.

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