In Washington, like most states, drivers are required to demonstrate financial responsibility for injuries and property damage they might cause to others while driving. Most drivers achieve this by purchasing the state’s minimum required motor vehicle insurance.
But the minimum required insurance limits are just that – minimum. When car accidents occur, the injuries and property damage can quickly devour the available insurance limits of the at-fault drivers and leave those who have been damaged without adequate compensation for their losses.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist (UIM) insurance is coverage you purchase to protect you when the motorist responsible for an accident does not have adequate insurance to pay for all of your damages.
Although UIM coverage is not required in Washington, carriers offering auto insurance must also offer UIM coverage in the same minimum limits as the liability coverage.
At the Law Offices of Joseph Rome, we know that Washington has a high incidence of uninsured and underinsured drivers on our roads. Kirkland car accident attorney Joseph Rome has seen firsthand how UIM coverage allows injured clients to receive the compensation they might not otherwise be able to collect.
Washington Auto Insurance Requirements
All Washington drivers who choose to use insurance to meet their financial responsibility requirements must carry the following minimum liability limits:
- $25,000 for the bodily injury to or death of any 1 person in 1 accident
- $50,000 for the bodily injury to or the death of all persons in 1 accident
- $10,000 for the property damage in 1 accident
Until recently, motorcycle drivers were exempt from the state’s liability insurance requirements. But in 2019, Washington legislators made the liability insurance requirements mandatory for motorcycle driversas well.
Why Drivers are Likely to be Underinsured
Most drivers don’t have a lot of incentive to purchase auto liability limits higher than those that are required. If you get into an accident with such a motorist the most you can get is $25,000 to cover everything to do with your injuries and $10,000 to cover any damage to your property. In this day and age, that’s just not very much and very likely inadequate.
Consider the following average per-person costs of car accidents in the US.
- $78,900 for an accident that results in disabling injuries
- $1,410,000 for an accident that results in a fatality
Add to that the fact that close to 22% of Washington drivers have no insurance – the 5th highest percentage in the nation and almost 10% higher than the national average.
What Happens When Accident Damage is Greater Than Policy Limits?
If you are injured by another motorist in a car accident and that driver has no insurance or not enough insurance, you can either directly sue the person responsible for the crash or you may be able to make a claim for coverage under your own auto insurance.
A big problem with suing someone who wasn’t responsible enough to carry insurance is that there may not be any other assets to recover.
Your own insurance policy may provide something called personal injury protection (PIP). PIP is an optional no-fault coverage that provides (typically) a $10,000 per person limit for medical expenses and other injury-related losses.
And if you opted to purchase it, you may also have at least the same limits for uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage as you carry for your own liability.
Car accidents are never expected and can sometimes result in serious injuries. The statistics show that you shouldn’t rely on other motorists having adequate insurance to cover your damages after an accident.
The Kirkland car accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Joseph Rome has seen how grateful clients are who have UIM coverage to help offset their losses and how devastating it can be when insurance is inadequate and people are left without compensation for their damages.
If you have been injured in a car accident by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, schedule a free consultation with attorney Joseph Rome to discuss your options. Call our office at 425-429-1729 or leave your contact information on our website and we will get back to you promptly.