Washington law requires that drivers maintain a minimum level of insurance to cover any damage a driver causes in a car accident. Specifically, a Washington driver must carry a minimum of $25,000 for injuries or death caused to a single person, $50,000 for total injuries or death caused in an accident, and $10,000 in insurance coverage for damage caused to someone else’s property.
Despite the required insurance minimums, Washington drivers are particularly bad about carrying car insurance. Driving without automobile insurance in Washington carries a $550 fine yet, according to a report from the Insurance Information Institute, in 2021, over 20% of Washington drivers do not have insurance coverage.
If you were injured in a car accident with an uninsured driver, you can file a claim with your insurance company through your Uninsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage. But filing a UIM claim is not always straightforward, and working with an experienced car accident injury attorney can help ensure that you receive full and fair compensation for your injuries.
An accident involving an uninsured driver often plays out differently than a typical car accident. An uninsured driver may fail to produce an insurance card, produce an insurance card that is expired, or produce a card that shows proof of insurance for a different driver. Sometimes the uninsured driver may even flee the scene before you can ask for the driver’s contact information.
If an uninsured driver does flee the scene, try to record as much identifying information as you can. Use your phone to take a picture of the vehicle, including the license plate number. Or use your phone to write notes about the other car including the license plate number, information about the other driver’s appearance, the make, model, and color of the car, and other information that you can use to identify the at-fault driver.
If the other driver does not flee but does not produce current proof of insurance, exchange information as you would in any other car accident by taking down the other driver’s name, address, phone number, and license plate.
When you purchased your automobile insurance policy, you had the option to purchase additional insurance coverage that would cover you in the event you were injured in a car accident with an uninsured driver. This coverage is called Uninsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage, and it works like a backup insurance policy.
Once your insurance company determines that the other driver did not have insurance coverage, your UIM coverage will step in to cover your claim and pay for the cost of any medical bills and property damage, up to the limits of your UIM insurance policy.
While you are not required to purchase UIM coverage in Washington, it is wise to do so. UIM coverage can protect you and your passengers in the event you are injured in a car accident with an uninsured driver.
Anytime you are involved in a car accident, you should contact the police and ask them to come to the scene of the crash. The police will ask both drivers to provide proof of insurance. If the other driver was uninsured, the police will note on the accident report that the other driver did not carry insurance.
Even if the other driver did not have insurance coverage, you still have the option to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. The other driver may be wealthy and be able to cover the cost of your medical care and treatment, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage. But that’s unlikely. Most drivers who choose to drive without insurance coverage do so because they cannot afford it. Therefore, it is likely that you will be filing a claim under your UIM coverage.
When you make a UIM claim, your insurance carrier will investigate the accident, including the nature and extent of your injuries, the cost of past and future medical care and treatment, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and other economic and non-economic losses that you suffered as a result of the crash. Your insurance company will make an offer to cover your losses, and you and your attorney can negotiate the terms of a settlement.
Even though you are working with your own insurance company when you make a UIM claim, it is still wise to have an experienced car accident injury attorney represent you. An attorney knows what evidence the insurance company will need to properly evaluate your claim, and will know how to obtain it. The insurance adjuster’s goal is still to pay the least amount possible to resolve your claim, and an experienced automobile accident injury lawyer will know whether the insurance company is making a fair offer.
Uninsured motorist claims often involve lengthy investigations and negotiations. Automobile insurance carriers will do everything they can to pay you as little as possible. An experienced Washington car accident injury attorney can help protect your right to full and fair compensation.
If you or someone you love was injured in an accident with an uninsured driver, the Campbell Law Firm can help by protecting your rights and fighting to make sure you receive full and fair compensation for your injuries. The Campbell Law Firm proudly represents people in Skagit County, Island County, San Juan County. Learn why clients choose us, then contact the Campbell Law Firm today.