Hit by an Uninsured Driver in Virginia: What Are Your Options?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Greg Webb with MichieHamlett Attorneys at Law.
A car accident of any kind can be stressful, but when a collision happens involving an uninsured or underinsured driver, the results can be even more stressful. This risk is especially prominent in Virginia, where drivers can legally operate their vehicle without insurance as long as they pay an annual $500 to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
Depending on your own insurance policies, an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist can leave you with limited options for financial recovery. This is why it is highly recommended to add underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) to your existing car insurance policy; these policies exist to help pay for your expenses in the event that the other driver does not have insurance or does not have adequate insurance.
If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, you may be able to file a claim.
Whenever an accident occurs due to the negligence of one or more parties, it may be possible to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit in order to pursue compensation for the resulting damages. Damages that may arise from a car accident typically include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. While insurance is typically the first line of recovery following a car accident, when the collision occurred between one or more drivers without sufficient insurance, it may be possible to file a car accident lawsuit against the negligent party.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that this method of recovery is not always effective in cases involving uninsured motorists; many people who drive without insurance do so out of financial concerns, which means they might not have many assets to make a recovery from even in the event of a successful lawsuit.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Medical Payment (MedPay) coverage may also provide help in this situation.
Another type of coverage separate from UM or UIM insurance is PIP or MedPay. Most states automatically include this type of coverage in some amount, although it can be waived. In Virginia, for example, this type of coverage is referred to as MedPay and while it is not required it is recommended. Most attorneys recommend purchasing as much MedPay as possible in order to protect yourself in the event of an accident, and do not recommend waiving or forgoing this coverage. MedPay and PIP coverage go directly to paying for the medical bills that may result from an accident, which can be a massive help especially if the other party does not have insurance, has insufficient insurance, or flees the scene of the accident before their information can be collected, such as in a hit-and-run.
It may be possible to combine existing insurance policies with the help of a car accident lawyer.
While the ideal scenario in this situation would be for the injured driver to have UM or UIM insurance, even if they do not it may be possible to combine existing policies in order to get the most out of your car insurance protection. The practice of combining different insurance policies is referred to as “insurance stacking” and due to the complicated nature of insurance law can be extremely difficult without the help of a lawyer. However, insurance stacking can be a great way to obtain the financial support you need following an accident, especially if you have purchased UM/UIM insurance but in any scenario in which the other party’s insurance situation cannot compensate for your damages.
To learn more about what you can do if you are injured in an accident with an uninsured driver, reach out to a car accident attorney in the state where the accident occurred.