An estimated 12.6% of motorists were uninsured in 2012—the most recent year available—according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). In many states, motorists are required to carry a minimum amount of insurance to operate a vehicle. However, in Virginia, motorists have the option to pay a fee to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to waive any insurance requirements. If you were hit by an uninsured driver, you have two main options: either sue the uninsured driver for bodily injury and property damages, or make a claim with your insurance, using your uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage.
Who Is an Uninsured/Underinsured Driver?
Virginia does not require its motorists to purchase auto insurance. Instead, motorists can opt to pay the UM fee with the DMV to register as an uninsured driver, which is $500 per year. By paying the fee, these drivers agree to take personal and financial responsibility for any damages they cause in accidents. However, for those who choose to buy insurance, Virginia law requires a minimum of 25/50/20 coverage for bodily injury, property damage, and UM coverage, respectively. Therefore, an uninsured motorist could be any person who:
- Legally drives without insurance after paying the UM fee
- Illegally drives without insurance
- Illegally drives with insufficient coverage
- Causes an accident, then leaves (a hit-and-run driver)
What to Do After a Crash With an Uninsured Motorist
If you were in a wreck with an uninsured driver and have UM coverage on your auto insurance policy, file a claim with your insurance policy as soon as possible. Insurance companies often enforce strict deadlines for making such a claim. The process for filing a UM claim often includes your insurance company:
- Temporarily stepping in to provide a legal defense for the uninsured/underinsured driver
- Calculating how much compensation you need for your bodily injury and property damage
- Paying you for your damages from your own policy
If you do not have UM coverage on your auto policy, you might be able to sue the uninsured/underinsured driver for damages. Sometimes, this can be difficult, as many people forego carrying insurance due to lack of funds—which means they might not have the money to compensate you for damages and injuries, even after a court order.
We Want to Help You
If you’re left with damages after a crash with an uninsured motorist and have questions about filing a UM claim with your insurance, we’re here to help. The legal team at Tavss Fletcher has been serving Virginia for over 30 years, and we can help you with your case, too. Give us a toll-free call at 877.960.3441 to get started on your case today.