What you need to know about uninsured driver accidents.

If there are injuries

Call 911 and report any injuries to emergency medical responders.

Never leave the scene of the accident

Even if there are no visible injuries and the accident seems minor, don’t leave the scene without calling the police.

Get as much information as possible

If you have a cell phone with a camera, take pictures of the vehicle damage. Document as much information as possible about the accident, other vehicle and the other driver. Gather information and photos without interfering with police and emergency responders.

Insurance?

Washington state requires all drivers to carry liability insurance and proof of auto insurance, including motorcycles (as of July 28, 2019). However, some drivers may not have enough insurance coverage for all the property damage and injuries they caused. Some drivers also choose to drive illegally without auto insurance. In the unlikely event you’re involved in an auto accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, here’s what you need to know.

In the State of Washington, motorists are required to carry a minimum of Washington law requires that all motorists carry minimum liability insurance—at least $25,000 in bodily injury liability, up to $50,000 per accident, and $10,000 in property damage.

Unfortunately, more than 17% of Washington Drivers are estimated to have NO insurance coverage. Washington ranks in the top ten for highest uninsured rates in the United States.

If you are injured in a vehicle collision, there may not be enough money to pay your medical bills and fairly compensate you if the other driver was uninsured or carrying the state minimum. This is a common occurrence. Some injury clients have to rely on the following to pay for medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

1) Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

PIP is no-fault insurance that will cover various losses, including:

  • Medical and hospital costs (up to $10,000, though you can purchase more);
  • Lost wages ($200 a week up to $10,000 in total, though you can buy more);
  • Lost services, if you need to hire someone to do household chores ($200 a week, up to $5,000, though you can buy more); and
  • Funeral expenses (up to $2,000)

Your injury attorney can determine if you have PIP coverage. In the State of Washington, PIP must be provided unless it is declined in writing.

2) Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance (UIM)

UIM or UM insurance is designed for precisely for situations where you are injured by a negligent motorist. Like, PIP, insurers must offer you UIM coverage, though you could decline it in writing. Hopefully, you did not decline this policy since it will cover you in this type of accident.

Unlike PIP benefits (no fault), UIM coverage only applies if another driver is responsible for the accident. If so, you can make a claim for your economic losses, such as medical care and lost wages. UIM coverage can be used for costs, as well as pain suffering, and inconvenience.

3) Personal Health Insurance

You might have health insurance through a job, or you could have bought a policy on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges. If you are injured, you should check whether you can use your health insurance to pay for medical care.

Health Insurance can be used to treat injuries; however, it does not replace lost wages, pain, suffering, or inconvenience. Regardless, it is an option to use for treatment of injuries.  Once your personal medical insurance makes payments, they may have a medical lien on your recovery. To learn more about medical liens, visit “What is a Medical Lien?”

4) Other Insurance Options

Look at your and the at-fault driver’s other insurance options, such as renters-homeowners-umbrella insurance options. Some insurance options will cover tort claims once other insurance options have been exhausted.

5) Sue the at-fault negligent Drive.

Even if a driver does not have insurance, they remains legally liable for the injuries and damage. This means, you can sue the negligent driver personally. Most exemptions, such as homestead exemptions, leave very little to recover. Unfortunately, not many drivers have sufficient assets to pay for your injuries. If they did, then they would probably have bought liability insurance, as is required by the state.

6) Speak to an Injury Attorney at Althauser Rayan Abbarno in Centralia or Olympia for FREE

Since 1946, the injury attorneys with Althauser Rayan Abbarno has been representing individuals injured in car-motorcycle-bicycle-pedestrian collisions. Our attorneys offer FREE consultations in Centralia and Olympia and have the experience to guide you and your family from start to finish. If you or someone you know was injured, call (360) 736-1301 or visit CentraliaLaw.com to schedule a FREE consultation.