A Crash Course in Uninsured Motorists: Washington State
If you’ve found yourself the victim of an automobile accident with an uninsured driver, you’re not alone. Across the United States, if someone is injured or killed in an automobile accident, chances are one in seven that the driver at fault is uninsured. What’s more, the Insurance Research Council reports that the estimated percentage of uninsured motorists has risen dramatically over the past decade. In 1999 12.7 percent of motorists were uninsured. In 2004 this figure jumped to 14.6 percent. Rising unemployment rates have only made the problem worse. The Insurance Research Council expects the figure of uninsured drivers to jump to a shocking 16 percent in 2010.
In Washington state nearly 20 percent of the drivers on the road are uninsured. It is no wonder, then, that so many insurance claims involve uninsured motorists.
Who are these uninsured motorists? Typically, they tend to be men between the ages of 18 and 29. Uninsured motorists tend to drive late-model cars. But anyone can be guilty of driving while uninsured. That’s why it’s wise to familiarize yourself with your insurance policy and state laws governing uninsured motorists.
Seeking Compensation from an Uninsured Motorist
Seeking compensation from an uninsured motorist can be difficult because uninsured motorists generally lack enough assets to warrant litigation. But depending on your policy, you may be able to make a successful claim against your insurance company to recover damages in case of serious injury. Your insurance company will typically compensate you for the following expenses:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of future earning power
- Loss of wages
The damages you can recover depend on your policy, but generally you are legally entitled to recover damages if you can prove that the uninsured motorist was at fault in causing your damages or injuries, and that the damages can be quantified and a specific amount of money can be issued to cover their expense.
Sometimes insurance policies will even cover property damage to your vehicle. But if your uninsured motorist coverage does not include property damage, and if you do not carry collision coverage, you’ll most likely have to pay out of your own pocket for the damage done to your motor vehicle by an uninsured motorist.
Who Else Is Covered by Uninsured Motorist Insurance?
Most uninsured motorist insurance will pay up to your policy’s uninsured motorist’s limits for injuries caused to the following parties:
- You while driving or riding in the vehicle named in your policy, while riding or driving in any vehicle you do not own, or while a pedestrian
- Any relative who resides with you and is injured in the motor vehicle named in your policy
- Anyone else riding in or driving your insured vehicle with your permission
- Anyone riding in a vehicle you are driving but do not own
Washington Uninsured Motor Vehicle Accidents
Washington state statutory laws require insurers in Washington to offer uninsured motorist insurance to anyone purchasing liability automobile insurance. The purpose behind uninsured motorist laws in Washington is to ensure a source of recovery for personal injuries following an automobile accident when the party responsible for the accident does not provide adequate protection.
Washington state requires that all drivers carry motor vehicle liability insurance coverage of not less than $25,000. The laws governing uninsured motorist insurance require that the insurer offer uninsured motorist coverage of not less than $25,000. If the insured is purchasing a higher amount of liability insurance than the statutory minimum of $25,000, then the insurance company must offer uninsured motorist coverage with limits of the same amount no matter how much that amount is.
A resident of Washington has the right to forgo uninsured motorist insurance. If an individual decides to do so, he or she risks being without adequate resources should they become involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist. That’s why it is best to purchase uninsured motorist insurance when deciding on your automobile insurance policy.
Seven Rules to Follow for an Accident Involving an Uninsured Motorist
Should you find yourself involved in a motor vehicle accident with an uninsured motorist, these seven rules will see to it that you have enough evidence to file a successful claim with your insurance company.
- File a police report
- Seek medical attention
- Remain at the scene of the accident
- Exchange driver’s license and vehicle registration information with the other motorist. Make sure to write down the motorist’s name, address, telephone number, date of birth, driver’s license number and expiration date, and make sure you write a description of the other vehicle (make, model, license plate number, expiration date and vehicle identification number).
- Take as many pictures as you can of the crash scene and any additional property damage.
- Take down the names and contact information of any witnesses.
- Never admit fault at the scene of an accident.
It is difficult to retain accurate memories of an automobile accident. It is therefore important that you keep a running log of details related to your accident. Write down such details as the time of day and week the accident occurred and specific features of the accident location. These details will come in helpful when settling an uninsured motorist’s claim with your insurance company.
Involved in an Accident With an Uninsured Motorist?
Though your insurance policy may seem fairly straightforward, many times insurance companies will attempt to find loopholes which allow them to deny or limit coverage. That’s why it is important that you seek the help from an attorney trained in the rules and regulations governing automobile accidents involving uninsured drivers. Only an attorney trained in automobile accidents will be able to successfully navigate the often complex legal process of filing an insurance claim in Washington state. Make sure you receive the compensation you deserve for the pain and suffering caused by an uninsured motorist; contact a Washington automobile accident lawyer today.
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