What to do if you’re hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver

According to a report by Money Geek, there are approximately 28 million uninsured drivers in the United States, which is equivalent to 1 in 8 motorists. The report also states that the number of uninsured drivers has increased by over 460,000 from 2015 to 2019 due to the growth in the overall population of licensed drivers.

Washington state has the 5th highest rate of uninsured motorists with more than 1 in 5 drivers on the road being uninsured.

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

What to do if you’re in accident

If there are injuries, immediately call 911 and request emergency assistance.

Never leave the scene of the accident

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

Get as much information as possible

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

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage

If your auto policy includes uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, you can file a claim with your company. Your collision and personal injury protection (PIP) coverage covers damage to your car and reasonable and necessary medical bills.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage may help pay for damage and injury caused by a hit-and-run accident or a phantom vehicle. You might even have a lower deductible under these circumstances. A phantom vehicle causes injury or damage without touching your vehicle. An example of this is a car swerving into your lane and causing you to crash to avoid it. You must report a phantom vehicle accident to the police within 72 hours if you’re making an auto insurance claim.

In the State of Washington, insurance policies automatically provide PIP and UIM coverage unless the policy holder waives the coverage in writing.

What to do if you don’t have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage

Your auto policy might not include uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. If you don’t have this coverage, you’ll need to rely on other coverage you might’ve bought. Collision coverage, for example, may pay for your damaged car. Personal injury protection can be used for injuries related to the accident. 

If you don’t have any of these coverages, you’ll need to pay for repairs, medical bills (unless you have health insurance), and maybe a rental car. You may then pursue the at-fault party to recover your costs.

Crime Victim’s Fund

If you were injured in an automobile collision due to the criminal negligence of another (i.e. DUI or hit and run) you may have Crime Victims Fund benefits available to you through the Department of Labor and Industries.

Unsure? Consult with an Attorney for FREE

Althauser Rayan Abbarno has been representing individuals in Washington State for over 75 years. For a FREE consultation in Olympia or Centralia with our injury attorneys, call (360) 736-1301 or visit CentraliaLaw.com