What happens if you're hurt by an uninsured driver? You have a case, but it's a little more complex and involves one of the most misunderstood areas of Virginia law. Hopefully, we can clarify matters.
VA Uninsured Drivers - More Common Than You Might Think
Surprisingly, Virginia law doesn't require drivers to be insured. There are many uninsured motorists on the road driving with full knowledge that they lack coverage. There are also drivers who accidentally let their coverage lapse due to nonpayment of premiums, etc. Whether by choice or through mistake, uninsured drivers are out there.
For those who have insurance, the minimal limit is incredibly low (just $25,000 per injury). In many cases, this won't even cover a hospital stay. So, we're faced with a second problem of drivers who have insurance, but not nearly enough to cover a serious injury. These drivers are often referred to as "underinsured motorists." If you've been hurt by a careless driver having little or no insurance, you have options.
The Virginia Solution - Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Take a minute to review your policy. It should contain uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. Typically, if you've been hurt by an uninsured driver your case is filed against your own insurance company. They, in turn, are allowed to step into the other driver's shoes and take all legal action to defend the claim. In this way, your insurer is free to act on behalf of the other driver and not you - they become adverse to you. In general, your injury case doesn't get any easier just because it's against your own company and in some respects it can be more difficult.
This also holds true if you're seriously injured by a driver who is insured, but has little coverage. In these cases, your coverage is termed underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, and protects you above and beyond the wrongdoer's policy. We often have to treat UM and UIM cases more aggressively, but the fundamentals remain the same. At all times, you have the absolute legal duty to correctly prove the elements of your case.
In addition to proving your injury case correctly, UM cases require analysis as to whether multiple insurance policies may also provide coverage for you. The coordination of multiplel policies can be a complex field of law in itself. For these reasons, you may wish to speak with an attorney after being hurt by a careless driver who was uninsured.
When buying auto insurance, we recommend that you purchase the highest amount of UM coverage possible as protection against catastrophic injury or even death caused by an uninsured driver.
Questions? Call us for a free consult. We'll be happy to discuss your options in simple, no-nonsense terms. After decades in practice and a proven track record of success against Virginia uninsured motorists, its the only way we know.