Even if you have never been injured in a car accident, you know the drill. Assuming everyone is okay, you get out and ask the other driver for his or her insurance information. But what if they don’t have any? Here are some things to think about.
Insurance Has an Important Role on the Road
Car accidents are a fact of life, and every state in America has taken steps to make sure drivers can pay for any damage they cause. In Washington State, drivers generally must be insured for
- $25,000 for injuries or death of 1 person in any 1 accident
- $50,000 for injuries or death of any 2 people in any 1 accident
- $10,000 for damage or destruction of property of others in any 1 accident
Drivers can get around this requirement with some alternative proof that they have the ability to pay for an accident, for example by certifying that they have $60,000 in the bank.
Washington State Has a Lot of Uninsured Drivers
Washington State drivers are especially bad at getting insured. Despite facing a $550 fine, data from the Insurance Information Institute shows that about 16.1% of Washington’s drivers are uninsured. That is significantly worse than the national average of 12.6%, and it gives Washington the 10th worst rate in the nation. To protect yourself from uninsured drivers, you should consider adding the following special coverages to your own insurance.
Coverages to Look for on Your Own Policy
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured (UM) and Underinsured (UIM) motorist coverage provides compensation to the injured party when they are hurt by another driver who has insufficient insurance to cover their damages. For example, if the at fault driver has no insurance or an inadequate amount of coverage, then your own insurance company steps into the shoes of the at-fault driver for the purposes of compensating the injured party. If you aren’t sure if you have UM or UIM coverage, ask to speak to one of our Bellevue personal injury attorneys today.
Personal Injury Protection
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage pays for your medical expenses and wage loss incurred from motor vehicle injuries, regardless of who is at fault. Thus, even if the other driver is uninsured, or the accident was your fault, you will have compensation for at least $10,000 in medical bills (you can also pay for higher coverage, typically $35,000.) This medical insurance is superior to most private insurance. There are no deductibles or copays. There are no arbitrary limits on provider visits (like chiropractic or physical therapy visits) and you can see any physician you choose. PIP coverage is a great value and is highly recommended. If you aren’t sure whether you have Personal Injury Protection coverage, ask to speak to one of our Bellevue personal injury attorneys today.
What to do if Struck by an Uninsured Driver
After any car accident, you should try to remain calm and ensure that the police file a report. Try to record the other vehicle’s license plate number immediately. Then try to get full contact information from both the other driver and any witnesses. Never apologize or suggest that you were at fault in any way, even if you think you were. Those issues can be sorted out later and any admission you make on the spot can be used against you. Document all your costs in the coming days, including items like medical care and a rental car.
Anyone hit by an uninsured driver should consult with a lawyer, and if the other driver appears to be at fault it may be worth pursuing a judgement against them. It is also possible to place a hold on someone’s driver’s license until they pay your losses.
Collecting Is The Hard Part
If you don’t have UM coverage, you could be out of luck if you’re hit by an uninsured driver. You can sue them and get a judgment which would allow you to seize bank accounts or property belonging to the responsible party. However, if the uninsured driver does not have a lot of assets usually they will be able to file bankruptcy and avoid your judgment.
So the best plan is to make sure you have UM coverage under your own insurance. And if you’re struck by an uninsured driver, get legal help at once to maximize your ability to recover all compensation to which you’re entitled.