If you’re an experienced driver, chances are you’ve been instructed on the basic steps that need to be taken if you’re ever hurt in a motor vehicle accident; it is important for anyone involved in a crash to be medically evaluated for any injuries and receive medical treatment for those injuries, file a police report, and make sure to document all insurance and contact information for the parties involved and any potential witnesses.
Unfortunately, the stresses and pains of being injured in a crash increase if and when you find out that the other driver does not carry a sufficient level of liability insurance coverage, if they even have liability insurance coverage at all. Although car insurance is legally required in nearly every single state in the country – New Hampshire being the exception – it is estimated that almost 14 percent of drivers in the U.S. do not have insurance. That number is even higher here in Washington state, at an estimated 16 percent. There is no concrete data on the number of people who carry low-limit policies – which sometimes restricts liability coverage to limits of just $25,000 – but we can presume that there are plenty of those policies out there as well.
If you’re involved in an accident that is caused by one of these uninsured or underinsured drivers, the realization that you may not have any legal options for recovering compensation to pay for your medical bills and other damages can be overwhelming. But consulting with the award-winning personal injury attorneys at Davis Law Group may open the doors to additional avenues for recovery.
What is UM/UIM Coverage and How Does It Work?
All drivers in Washington state are legally required to carry at least $25,000 in liability insurance coverage. State law does requires insurance companies to offer additional coverage to drivers that may protect them in the event that they are involved in a crash with a person who is uninsured or underinsured, meaning that the coverage amounts are minimal and unlikely to fully compensate a victim. Although drivers are not required to carry uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, this type of insurance can make all the difference in an accident victim’s ability to successfully recover the compensation they are legally entitled to.
If you are injured in a crash with an uninsured driver and you carry UM/UIM coverage as part of your auto insurance policy, then a claim may be filed against your own insurance company to cover the difference between the at-fault driver’s liability coverage limits and the amount of damages you have suffered as a result of that driver’s negligence. UM/UIM coverage will often apply to a person who is injured in a crash as a driver, passenger, pedestrian, or even a bicyclist when the at-fault driver’s insurance policy will not cover the total amount of damages.
In some cases, your UM/UIM coverage may cover you if you are injured in a crash with a hit-and-run driver, though some policies require the driver to be identified. Passengers inside of your vehicle who were injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver may also be covered by certain policies. The exact language of the policy will determine whether or not these special situations may be covered.
One example of a situation where UM/UIM coverage would come into play might involve a driver who is hospitalized with multiple broken bones after being involved in a collision caused by a driver whose liability insurance policy limit is $25,000. The hospital visit(s), treatment, follow-up care, and any necessary surgeries for this accident victim will likely exceed that $25,000 policy limit. If the injured party has UM/UIM coverage, his or her own insurer may be responsible for covering the difference.
Next Steps for Accident Victims
These are some of the more complex pieces of insurance law and personal injury law, and determining whether UM/UIM insurance coverage may provide you with compensation after a crash can be difficult without the assistance of an attorney. Furthermore, properly filing a UM/UIM claim with your own insurance company can be a hassle, especially with the deceitful tactics often used by insurance companies and insurance adjusters.
The experienced attorneys at Davis Law Group in Seattle can help you better understand your legal rights and options after a serious crash caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver. We aim to make the entire legal process as easy as possible for victims and their families, which is why we offer a free case review to those interested in consulting with an attorney. Call our office at (206) 727-4000 or use the contact form on this page to get started.