Updated on: 11/25/2019
It was a night just like any other night according to the 29-year-old Uber driver until shortly after just another pickup, the sound of an explosion erupted through his car.
His passenger, a 30-year-old with a concealed weapon, accidentally discharged the weapon through his seat and into his back after a night of heavy drinking.
The driver found himself in and out of consciousness as police arrived, then EMT’s who rushed him to the hospital and reportedly advised him to reach out to loved ones because “it’s not looking good.”
After flat lining four times, losing the use of a foot, and more than 100 individual staples, the driver finds himself on the road to recovery, however, now the cost of his recovery has become the next obstacle to overcome.
Insurance & Benefit Options For Crime Victims
The Uber driver did not have health insurance and even though he had “full coverage” car insurance, due to the nature of the incident is not covered. Unfortunately, the name “full coverage” is somewhat of a misnomer.
While It would appear to imply that one has a “full” suite of coverage options available, it would be a more apt description to say that they have fully fulfilled the legal requirements of the bare minimum amount of coverage, meaning drivers across the country likely have no idea about major gaps in coverage.
Uber even offers a protection plan for drivers, but this driver had not signed up for it.
Now with a mountain of bills and no coverage, the driver has reportedly set up a go fund me to help pay the bills.
The passenger who fired the gun has been charged with third degree assault and appears to be entirely at fault for the incident at this time, so is the legal system the answer for our drivers’ medical bills?
Maybe, but unfortunately, without specific insurance, this case is more complicated than your average car accident.
Options Beyond Insurance
Obviously, the easiest solution to this problem would be to simply have health insurance or accept additional coverage from services like Uber when it is offered. Not only does this insurance give you a first line of defense for accidents and injuries like this, it also gives a better legal option than counting on the person responsible to have specific insurance, or any insurance at all.
When the individual who harmed you does not have insurance, having under insured or uninsured coverage as part of your own plan can protect you from being stuck with limited assets available to collect, which is further explained in this previous blog post.
Without insurance, someone like our driver could potentially take his shooter to small claims court to try to recover a maximum of $5000, but for more than that our driver would need to sue.
When suing an individual, the amount you can recover can become tricky as if the defendant is pushed to bankruptcy, his debts including any amount not already recovered in the case, could be forgiven. This means that there are potentially incredibly limited amounts of funds and assets available for a claimant unless the defendant happens to be wealthy.
If the defendant does happen to be wealthy however, he or she may also have an umbrella policy, which is a special kind of insurance that covers individuals from personal liability, meaning their individual finances are not as relevant to the case as what the insurance could offer or a jury could decide in court.
Finally aside from all these options and possibilities, if a victim still is not able to find restitution from insurance, or the individual that harmed them, the Washington Crime Victims Compensation Program is available for victims of violent crime and may be able to help support additional expenses that would otherwise go uncovered.
The fund is not without its limitations and may not be able to offer everything insurance would or even everything needed, but in cases where all other options are exhausted, and expenses remain this could be a helpful option for certain victims.
For more information on understanding your insurance options and finding what's right for you, check out our Washington State Auto Insurance Guide.
If you would like to contribute to the go fund me for the driver in this story, you can do so here.
If you find yourself or someone you are going through these options, looking for answers, the award-winning team here at Davis Law Group is here to help. No one option works for every incident, let us help find what works for your case.