Your legal options when hit by an uninsured driver
On behalf of Law Offices of Steven H. Dorne posted in Personal Injury on August 18, 2016.
It is against the law to drive without insurance in all 50 states. Still, approximately one in 10 motorists in Virginia is without valid insurance, according to research by the Insurance Research Counsel. Drivers who are uninsured often simply fail to secure insurance, have a lapsed policy, or may be driving on a suspended or revoked license. Victims of a hit-and-run are also dealing with uninsured motorist issues.
The takeaway is that if you are in an accident through no fault of your own, there is a significant possibility the other driver will not have the insurance coverage you need to pay medical expenses and lost wages, among other costs. Even if the at-fault driver does have insurance, it is possible he or she carries minimum coverage, which may not adequately compensate you for your injuries.
So what can you do if hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver?
Ideally, your own insurance will step in through uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. UM/UIM coverage varies by state, so where you live and drive can affect how your insurance works. Both D.C. and Virginia require UM/UIM coverage.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance in Virginia
Virginia requires motorists to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance with minimum coverage of $25,000 for bodily injury per person, $50,000 for bodily injury per incident, and another $20,000 for property damage per incident.
When you seek to recover after an accident with an uninsured driver, your claim will be with your own insurance company. But just because it is your insurance company involved does not mean you will receive adequate compensation. Your own insurance company may contest the seriousness and cost of your injuries, for example.
UM/UIM motorist insurance in Washington D.C.
In Washington D.C., you are required to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance at a minimum of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident.
The District of Columbia also has an “Uninsured Motorist Fund.” The fund compensates victims of auto accidents by uninsured/underinsured motorists when the individual does not have insurance of his or her own.
For example, if you are the passenger inside the vehicle of a driver who does not have auto insurance and the driver is involved in an accident with you inside the vehicle, you may be eligible for compensation from the fund. The Uninsured Motorist Fund is not applicable if you were driving without the required amount of insurance coverage.
UM/UIM coverage and insurance matters in car accidents can be complex
While the above is a brief overview of UM/UIM insurance matters, it is not intended to be a comprehensive overview. Every state has different laws regarding insurance policy coverage and exclusions. Negotiating with an insurance company over payouts can be a lengthy and intricate process. How much your insurance company will pay depends on your individual circumstances. However, it is important to note that just because you were injured by an uninsured driver does not mean you are without options or legal help. If you have questions about your own policy coverage and circumstances, speak to a personal injury lawyer familiar with accidents involving UM/UIM coverage.