I Was Hit By an Uninsured Driver…Now What?
Negligent drivers can do more than just cause car accidents. Sometimes, they cause wrecks while unlawfully driving uninsured. An uninsured or underinsured driver may be unable to cover the victims’ damages, leaving questions about who will pay for medical bills and property repairs.
If you get into an accident with an at-fault, uninsured driver in Virginia, you’ll need to contact your own insurance provider right away. You should also speak with a personal injury lawyer to hold the negligent driver accountable for any injuries you sustained as a result of the crash.
Why Is Insurance Required for Motorists?
When cars first started hitting the road, there were arguments over who was responsible for injuries and property damage in the event of an accident. Insurers started offering coverage for cars around the turn of the 20th century. Liability in a crash was not a new issue; you can find horse and buggy policies from the 1800s!
However, a state didn’t start mandating coverage for drivers until 1925 in Connecticut. The damages in car accidents were so great that there was no guarantee that an at-fault driver could cover the costs. There had to be a way to compensate for injuries.
Today, 49 of the 50 states require car insurance for all drivers. If you drive a car, it is highly likely you’ll have an accident at some time in your life. You need protection for yourself and others. But some people still choose to drive uninsured.
Virginia Car Insurance Requirements
It is against the law to drive without insurance in Virginia. All drivers must carry fault-based insurance and uphold their financial responsibility requirements according to the state’s mandatory minimums. Each state has unique minimums drivers must obey.
If a driver attempts to register a vehicle without automobile insurance in Virginia, he or she may receive a $500 fine. Virginia minimums include:
- $20,000 per accident in property damage liability insurance
- $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident in bodily injury coverage
- $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident in uninsured motorist bodily injury insurance
- $20,000 per accident in uninsured motorist property damage liability (with a $200 deductible in a hit-and-run accident)
Virginia drivers must also carry proof of insurance with them when they drive. After a collision, all involved drivers should exchange insurance information with each other. If you discover the other driver does not have insurance, call the police. Reporting the other driver could prevent him or her from returning to the road while uninsured.
What Do I Do if the Other Driver Is Uninsured?
Virginia is a traditional tort state when it comes to car accidents. The party at fault for the collision will owe money to the victim for damages. If the at-fault party is uninsured, however, this will not be possible. What can you do if the responsible party can’t pay?
If you have at least the minimum amount of required insurance in Virginia, you will have uninsured motorist coverage. Call your insurance provider to file a damage claim. Explain that you did not cause the crash, but the at-fault party does not have insurance.
This will cover your damages after a collision with a driver that does not have insurance. Your insurance agent will walk you through the claims process. You may need to submit proof of your injuries or damages, such as photographs, auto mechanic estimates and medical records to receive benefits.
Don’t Wait Too Long to Notify Your Insurance After a Car Accident
Notify your insurance company of the uninsured driver accident right away. Waiting longer than a month after the crash to file a claim could give your insurance provider a reason to deny benefits.
Letting your insurance company know about the accident immediately can increase your odds of a successful claim. Some insurance companies have specific deadlines, such as 30 days. Read your policy for your exact deadline. Play it safe by making the call right away.
Will My Insurance Premiums Go Up?
It depends on your policy. Usually, insurance companies will not raise rates for an uninsured motorist claim, but they could still find a way to raise your premiums by removing another discount, like a safe driver discount.
The increase will be far less than what you would have to pay in a normal collision case. According to Insurance Panda, uninsured motorist claims raise rates around 2%-10%, compared to 20%-60% in a collision case.
How to Maximize Your Payout?
Despite keeping up with your monthly payments, the insurance company may not want you to obtain fair compensation after an uninsured motorist accident. Instead, the insurance company could try to save money by undervaluing or denying your claim.
A lawyer can represent your side of a case during insurance settlement negotiations. While you heal from your injuries, your lawyer will gather evidence proving the other driver’s fault and the severity of your injuries or property damages. An attorney will know how to force an insurance provider to take your claim seriously and deal with it fairly.
Hiring a lawyer to take over claim negotiations for you could allow you to focus on recovery without worrying about your case. Your lawyer will handle investigations, settlement negotiations, pretrial tasks and an injury trial on your behalf. Contact an attorney for help after an uninsured motorist crash in Virginia.