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.
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/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.
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 co-pays. 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.
What to do if Struck by an Uninsured Driver
After any car accident, you should call the police so that a report can be filed and get immediate medical treatment if needed. Try to record the other vehicle’s license plate number. Then try to get full contact information from both the other driver and any witnesses. Document all your costs in the coming days, including items like medical care and a rental car.
If you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage, collision insurance or personal injury protection on your policy, you’ll need to pay for repairs, medical bills (unless you have health insurance), and maybe a rental car. You may then personally pursue the at-fault party directly to recover your costs.
If an uninsured driver fails to pay collision damages, you may report it to the WA State Dept. of Licensing (DOL) by completing a Motor Vehicle Claim for Damages within 180 days of the collision.
- To qualify, the collision must have resulted in at least $1,000 in property damages or an injury.
- If the uninsured driver fails to pay, the DOL could suspend their driver license.
Since it can be difficult to collect from an uninsured driver, it’s best plan 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.
We Are Happy to Help
An experienced professional at Lehmbecker Law Firm is always willing to meet for a free case review where we can discuss your situation and, if appropriate, lay out a plan to pursue compensation.