After a car accident, victims are often able to file claims with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Unfortunately, some drivers who cause accidents do not have insurance or their policy expired.
This raises the obvious question: where does the victim turn for compensation for medical expenses and other damages?
In Virginia, the at-fault driver is financially liable for the victim’s damages. You may be able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, but he or she may not have the financial means to cover your damages, that may be the reason why he or she does not have insurance.
Unless you specifically opted out of uninsured motorist coverage, you likely have this coverage in your car insurance policy. (Under state law, auto insurance companies must include a minimum amount of this coverage in a car insurance policy unless the driver opts out.)
This coverage is meant for accidents with drivers who were not insured or who left the scene of the crash and could not be located by the police.
The minimum amount of coverage required by law is $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident for bodily injury – this pays for your medical bills, up to the limits of your coverage. The minimum amount of coverage for uninsured motorist property damage is $20,000 per accident.
However, you may want to purchase a lot more coverage. If you are severely injured in an accident and need extensive treatment, medical bills can quickly rack up. It may cost significantly more than $25,000 to treat your injuries.
If you were in an accident with multiple parties and not just one, the other parties may have insurance, so you may be able to file a claim with their insurance company or companies. However, they would likely only be liable for their role in causing the crash and the damages that resulted from their actions. Even though you may be able to recover compensation from these other parties, it may not be enough for the full amount of your damages. You may still need to file a claim with your uninsured motorist coverage.
If you were driving a company car when the crash occurred, or driving for work in your own car, you may be covered by Virginia’s workers’ compensation system, and potentially your employer’s insurance policy on the car.
If the driver fled the scene, call the police right away and give them any identifying information about the car or driver. You should not give chase – sometimes drivers flee the scene because they are fleeing the scene of a crime or they have a warrant for their arrest. The police are trained to pursue people who have committed crimes.
If the police catch the driver, and he or she has insurance, you can file a claim with their insurance company. If not, your uninsured motorist coverage may provide compensation.
What if the Insurance Company Denies My Claim?
Even if you have uninsured motorist coverage, your insurance company may try to avoid paying compensation. They may claim you are at fault for the crash.
If this happens, your attorney may be able to file a lawsuit against the insurance carrier to obtain compensation. As these lawsuits may be considered breach of contract claims, you generally have three to five years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit.
Injured in a Crash with an Uninsured Driver? Schedule a Free Legal Consultation
The Richmond car accident lawyers at Geoff McDonald and Associates have recovered millions on behalf of accident victims. We have in-depth knowledge of Virginia laws that apply to car crash claims, including how to pursue compensation when the at-fault driver does not have insurance.
There is no risk in contacting us for a free review of your claim, as there is no obligation for you to hire our firm. If you do, we are not paid unless we recover compensation for your damages.