Were You Hit by an Uninsured Motorist?

According to one report, over 10% of Virginia motorists lack insurance. That number is unsurprising. Virginia is one of the few states that lets motorists avoid having insurance when they register their vehicles. Instead, motorists can pay a measly $500 uninsured motorist fee and be good to go. Talk about creating an incentive for drivers to avoid getting coverage!

What happens if the driver who struck you is uninsured? Fortunately, you have some options for receiving compensation, but you should call Correll Law Firm for in-depth advice. Our Winchester car accident lawyer can review your options, explain the claims process, and get to work representing you if hired. Car accidents cause thousands of dollars in damages, and you don’t want to be left without compensation.

Uninsured Motorist Insurance

Under Virginia law, any insurer should offer uninsured motorist coverage (UM) when they sell you a liability policy. The two are different:

  • Liability coverage pays compensation to anyone you negligently injure while driving. So if you hit a car in an intersection, the occupants can sue you.
  • Uninsured motorist coverage kicks in when the driver who struck you is uninsured or flees the accident scene.

You should have UM coverage up to the limits of your liability coverage. Currently, the minimum liability insurance in Virginia is $30,000 for one victim, up to $60,000 for two or more people injured. Consequently, the minimum a driver should have is $30,000 per person injured in a crash.

UM insurance can cover losses related to:

  • Medical care to treat injuries, including surgery, diagnostic tests, prescription medication, doctor’s visits, and supportive devices like crutches.
  • Lost income if you can’t work after the wreck.
  • Pain and suffering, to cover the intangible losses suffered due to an accident.

This is terrific insurance to have. Many people complain that they don’t want to pay for it. But once struck by an uninsured motorist, they breathe a huge sigh of relief.

Although you pay premiums for UM coverage, this is fault-based insurance. You can’t claim UM benefits if you caused the collision. Unsurprisingly, some disputes might arise between you and your insurer. For example, they might claim you were intoxicated or distracted and therefore contributed to your collision or possibly drove off the road. You should contact the Correll Law Firm to talk about your case. Our lawyer might need to negotiate with your UM insurer to get the benefits you deserve.

Collision Insurance

Your car was probably wrecked in the collision, and it is expensive to repair. The cost of even used vehicles has skyrocketed over the past few years, which means that buying a replacement car is also expensive when your vehicle is totaled.

Check to see if you have collision insurance. This is no-fault insurance, which means you can use it even if you were to blame for the accident. It should cover repairs up to the policy limit for a car damaged in a collision. So you can take your car to a body shop and have it fixed. If your car is totaled, you can get a check and use the proceeds toward a new car.

Collision coverage is optional, but there’s good news if you have a car loan: most lenders require that you carry collision coverage, which protects the value of the car (which serves as collateral for the loan). Look through your paperwork, because you definitely want to use collision coverage if you can.

Health Insurance

Medical care is very expensive. You can expect a doctor to turn you away if you have no ability to pay out of pocket. Fortunately, many people have health insurance, either through their job or a policy they purchased on their own. You can use health insurance to obtain immediate medical care.

However, if you ultimately get a settlement, then you will probably need to pay your health insurer back for some or all of the medical expenses.

Medical Payments Coverage

Also called “med pay,” this insurance pays for medical care for injuries suffered in a car crash. This is also no-fault insurance, so it is different from UM coverage described above. Also, many people have lower policy limits, usually a few thousand dollars. But it can provide crucial financial support when you badly need medical care. Some people even use their med pay benefits to cover the deductible on their health insurance.

Because med pay is no fault, there is usually little haggling required with your insurer, and you can tap these benefits quickly.

Personal Injury Lawsuit

You can always sue an uninsured motorist if they were responsible for the crash. Although they don’t have insurance, they might have other assets you can reach. For example, you might garnish their wages to collect on a court judgment, or you could levy some of their property.

Suing a person without insurance comes with risk, however. For one, they might be “judgment proof”—essentially, they have no income and no assets. That means you might win your case but you can’t collect at all. Or they might have a job but the amount you can garnish is so low that it’ll take years to ever receive a fair sum for your injuries. Talk about this option with our Winchester car accident lawyer.

Victims Compensation Fund

Virginia’s Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund pays money to violent crime victims. You are eligible if you were injured in a drunk driving accident or a hit-and-run. There are other requirements, such as cooperating with the police and the courts, as well as reporting the accident to the police within 5 days. You also can’t have been involved in illegal activity at the time of the crash.

Contact Us for More Information

Getting struck by an uninsured motorist is a fear many motorists have. Fortunately, you do have some options for getting compensation when another motorist ends up smashing into you or running you off the road. Please call the Correll Law Firm to speak with our lawyer about these and other possible options following a crash.