I Was Hit By An Uninsured Motorist – What’s Next?

I Was Hit By An Uninsured Motorist – What’s Next?

Despite the fact that Washington requires all licensed drivers in the state to prove financial responsibility for potential damage if they cause an automobile accident, a good portion of drivers are not in compliance with Washington’s minimum car insurance requirements.

If an uninsured driver causes an accident there is one less source of recovery to compensate for the losses. Sometimes it can leave injured parties without adequate compensation for their damages.

The Kirkland personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Joseph Rome knows how frustrating it can be for clients injured in car accidents caused by uninsured motorists.

How Many Uninsured Drivers are on the Roads?

Washington actually has a significantly higher percentage of uninsured motorists behind the wheel than most other states. According to Insurance Information Institute, almost 22% of Washington’s drivers are uninsured. Only 4 states have a higher percentage of uninsured motorists.

Washington has over 5.5 million licensed drivers and about 1.2 million do not have insurance.

Auto Insurance Requirements in Washington

Liability insurance or some other acceptable proof of financial responsibility is required for all who operate motor vehicles on Washington roads. For most drivers, that means purchasing the minimum required limits of auto liability insurance.

The minimum amounts of liability insurance for anyone who drives a motor vehicle or a motorcycle in Washington are:

  • $25,000 for damage to any one person
  • $50,000 for damage to all persons in one accident
  • $10,000 for damage to any property in one accident

Uninsured (Underinsured) Motorist and PIP Coverage

Drivers are not required to carry uninsured motorist coverage in Washington. But insurance companies are required to offer both uninsured motorist (UM) coverage and personal injury protection (PIP) coverage with every quote. Drivers who decline to purchase the coverage must do so in writing.

UM is first-party coverage that allows an insured who is injured by an uninsured motorist to make a claim against their own insurance company for their damages. Uninsured motorist limits are typically the same as the liability limits.

PIP is an additional first-party limit of coverage – usually $10,000 – that is available to cover damages without regard to fault.

Recovery Options When an At-Fault Motorist is Uninsured

When someone gets into an accident with an uninsured motorist the first place they will turn for coverage is to their own auto insurer to make a claim under their personal injury protection coverage. Since PIP benefits are available no matter who is at fault, payments can be made quickly. PIP payments can cover the following expenses:

  • Medical
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of services
  • Funeral

A claim for uninsured motorist benefits can also be made if the coverage was purchased. This claim will proceed like a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver except it will be against a claimant’s own insurance company.

Finally, if insurance is not available or is inadequate to cover all of an injured party’s damages, a lawsuit can be brought directly against the uninsured driver.

Why you Need Legal Help Making an Uninsured Motorist Claim

People may think that dealing with their own insurance company – the one they pay premiums to – will be free of hassle because they did nothing wrong and have a legitimate claim under their policy. What they may not realize is that an uninsured motorist claim places an insured in an adversarial position with their own company just as if they were making a claim against the responsible driver.

At the Law Offices of Joseph Rome, we understand insurance companies don’t want to pay out more than they have to. But they are bound by a contractual obligation and Kirkland uninsured motorist accident lawyer Joseph Rome fights hard to get clients all the compensation they are legally entitled to. If you were in a car accident with an uninsured motorist call our office at 425-429-1729 or contact us here for a free evaluation of your accident claim.