While in the state of Washington drivers are required to carry a minimum of $25,000 bodily injury liability coverage per person and $50,000 per accident, as well as a minimum of $10,000 in property damage liability, there are still many uninsured drivers operating vehicles across the Evergreen state.
Data from the Insurance Research Council (IRC) estimates that 1 in 8 drivers doesn’t have auto insurance. That means that even if you’re a responsible and safe driver, you are still vulnerable to accidents with uninsured drivers.
Underinsured or uninsured motorist accidents: How should you proceed?
Dealing with drivers who are underinsured or uninsured can be a real headache, especially if there is extensive damage to your vehicle or if your injuries require long-term medical treatment. However, most consumers are protected by a clause in their own insurance policy, which provides some protection in this situation.
Before you look into your insurance options, however, keep in mind there are a few steps you should take.
1. Don’t panic
After pulling to the side of the road safely and asking for the at-fault driver’s insurance information, take a deep breath and stay calm. No need to make a potentially difficult situation more stressful.
2. Call the authorities
Whether the driver who’s at fault is insured or not makes no difference when it comes to reporting the accident. As a matter of fact, always call the police after a collision. When it comes to dealing with an uninsured motorist, contacting the authorities is even more important.
3. Exchange contact information
While the uninsured driver won’t have insurance information to exchange, you will still have to contact the at-fault party in the future so get their contact and vehicle information at the scene of the accident.
4. Don’t accept any offers
An uninsured driver might be more likely to try to offer car accident victims money to avoid having to pay hefty fines and fees. While you might be tempted to accept it, you might not really know what your damages and injury costs will be until much later.
5. Gather evidence
As you would do after any accident, take pictures of the damage, the vehicles involved, the location, license plates, injuries, etc. Gather any documentation pertaining to the injuries and medical treatment you received following the accident, and reach out to any potential witnesses. All of these details will help you later with your case.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Not all auto policies include coverage to address a lack of insurance on the part of another driver, but many do. This clause protects the driver and any passengers injured in an accident. Some policies also provide benefits for property damage as well. That’s why drivers should always consider looking into including uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage to their policy.
When Do These Benefits Apply?
Benefits on your policy for a lack of coverage on the part of the other driver apply when that person:
- does not have adequate auto insurance
- their policy has lapsed
- the coverage they carry does not meet the state’s minimum
- their insurance company denies the claim
The clause also encompasses any accident termed a hit and run. In cases involving severe injuries, this coverage can be crucial.
Motorcycle Accident Attorneys based in Yakima, Wenatchee, and Seattle Are Ready to Help
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is not mandatory in all states, however, and is only recommended by insurance agents. For this reason, it is important to check with your insurer to see if you carry adequate coverage to protect yourself, your family, and your passengers.
Some policies may extend coverage to include your lost wages, pain and suffering, decreased earning capacity, property damages, repairs to your car, and punitive damages. Policies vary, so be sure you understand the type of coverage you carry.
In accidents of this nature, it’s essential to notify the police of the accident immediately after the crash. Most uninsured motorists will receive a citation for failing to carry adequate insurance. The satisfaction of knowing the other party will be fined may be the only compensation you receive from them for your accident. That’s why it is important to consider protecting yourself the moment you purchase insurance from a provider.
After the accident, seek the attention of a doctor as soon as possible to make sure your injuries are cared for.
Begin your own claim process as quickly as possible. You may also want to consult a Seattle car crash lawyer about the potential for filing a personal injury claim to seek restitution.
Dealing with uninsured and underinsured motorists is a sad fact of life for many drivers. It is estimated that nearly 14% of motorists fail to carry adequate vehicle insurance. That means your chances of dealing with one of these drivers is greater than 1 in 10. For most drivers, that risk alone is enough to prompt them to add additional coverage to their existing auto policy.
IF YOU, OR A LOVED ONE, HAVE BEEN SERIOUSLY INJURED IN A MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT IN WASHINGTON – CALL TODAY FOR A FREE CONSULTATION!