No one wants to be in a car accident, and the damages can be catastrophic. You could be facing severe injuries, a wrecked car, and you might not be able to work for an extended period of time.
If the accident wasn’t your fault, you would naturally assume that the other driver’s insurance company will cover all the damages you’ve incurred and make you whole. But, what if the person who hit you doesn’t have insurance?
In this article, we’ll explore why a driver might not have insurance and what you can do to avoid having to pay for the accident yourself.
Why Do So Many Virginia Drivers Lack Auto Insurance?
Virginia is one of only two states that doesn’t require car insurance. Instead of paying for insurance, the driver simply pays an uninsured motorist fee of $500. In exchange for this fee, motorists can legally drive without insurance. However, they are still liable for damages if they cause a car accident.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, it’s estimated that 10.5% of drivers in Virginia don’t carry insurance. This figure is an estimation because the data is a ratio of uninsured motorist claims to the number of accidents with bodily injuries. In reality, this figure represents the likelihood that, if you’re involved in an accident, the other party won’t have insurance. The chances of that happening are about one in ten.
Exploring Your Options
Even though the state of Virginia doesn’t require motorists to have insurance to drive a vehicle, it is required that anyone who purchases a policy must carry uninsured motorist coverage – UM, for short. There is an option to opt-out of this coverage in writing, so it’s possible you don’t have UM coverage.
Assuming you have uninsured motorist coverage, the worst-case scenario is that you’ll have to file a claim with your insurance company, and they’ll likely cover the damages from your accident.
Note the use of the term “likely.” Your insurance company could potentially deny your claim. If that happens, you’ll need an advocate in your corner, but you’ll have other options before going that route.
Alternative Option 1: Determine if there are Other Parties Could Be Liable
It’s worth exploring the circumstances of the accident to see if another party could be liable for what happened. For example, was the other driver in a company vehicle on a work-related errand or task? If so, the employer might be liable, and their insurance company would cover the damages.
Another potential scenario is that the other driver’s vehicle had a malfunction, there was an issue with a sign on the street, or the roads were not properly maintained. In those cases, a manufacturer or municipality could be liable if it can be proven that those circumstances led to the collision.
Alternative Option 2: Attach the Assets of the Uninsured Driver
In some cases, an aggrieved party can attempt to recover damages by forcing the at-fault driver to pay using their personal assets. Unfortunately, this scenario seldom pans out because people without insurance tend to lack significant net worth. Still, it’s worth exploring because you won’t know until you investigate all possible avenues.
Will My Insurance Rates Go Up if I Make an Uninsured Motorist Claim Against My Own Insurance Policy?
No, your insurance rates will not go up if you make a claim with your insurance company for damages caused by an uninsured motorist. Your insurance company cannot increase your premium if you were in an accident caused by another vehicle driver, unless the accident was caused either completely, or partially by you, or a resident of your household that was driving.
What to Do if an Uninsured Motorist Caused Your Car Accident
It’s normal to feel helpless if you’ve been the victim of an accident caused by an uninsured motorist. The good news is that you have options to recover damages. Get in touch with Geoff McDonald and Associates at 866-369-9051 for a free consultation.