Although Virginia drivers are required to carry car insurance, a surprising number do not. The Insurance Research Council (IRC) estimates that as many as one out of every eight drivers in the United States is uninsured or underinsured. The IRC further claims that one out of every ten Virginia drivers fits the definition of being uninsured or underinsured.
Uninsured and underinsured motorists pose a financial risk to other drivers. Virginia law follows a fault-based system regarding car wrecks: the person responsible for causing the crash or their insurer pays for the damage they cause.
Because approximately 82 percent of uninsured or underinsured drivers cannot afford adequate insurance, they lack the means to pay for the medical bills and car repairs they cause in wrecks. This situation may require the help of a skilled car accident attorney to help you obtain the compensation you need.
Steps to Take Following an Uninsured Driver Car Wreck
Adequate liability insurance under Virginia law includes coverage for damage and injuries an uninsured driver caused. Having coverage does not mean Virginia drivers should do nothing after a car accident with an uninsured driver.
A fair recovery is one in which the person responsible for causing a car wreck is the one who has to bear the financial costs thereof. Without taking prompt action immediately following a wreck, however, you may lose your opportunity for justice.
Gather as Much Information as You Can About the Uninsured Driver
Immediately following any car crash, but especially one caused by an uninsured driver, you should attempt to obtain as much information about the at-fault driver as possible.
Writing down the person's name, address, and contact information can help you and your insurer contact the individual later. If possible, note the uninsured driver's vehicle and license plate. Doing so may help you and your car accident attorney locate other potentially responsible individuals.
Looking For a Personal Injury Lawyer?
If you have been personally injured recently one of the best decisions you could make right now is to hire a personal injury lawyer. A lawyer will be able to go over your case details and provide the crucial steps you need to have a chance of winning your claim. Emroch and Kilduff is here to support you, reach out to us!
Document Your Injuries and Vehicle Damages
Note any injuries you sustained in the crash, including any treatment related to those injuries.
Your doctor's office or the hospital where you received treatment will likely retain records about any treatment they provide. Still, keep any paperwork they give you, such as discharge instructions or directions to abstain from work while you recover.
Keep any explanation of benefits statements, communications from your insurer, and invoices or bills from treatment providers. Save your receipts if you or your insurer pay any of these costs.
Similarly, document and preserve records of any damage to your vehicle or other personal property. The record-keeping practices of some body shops are not as stringent and reliable as those of doctors’ offices, so you may want to ask a repair shop for copies of their estimate and any supporting photographs they take.
If you or your insurer pay for any repairs, ensure your receipt indicates who paid, the amount paid, and the parts and labor covered by the payment.
Do Not Attempt to Settle with the Uninsured Motorist Without First Speaking to a Virginia Car Accident Lawyer
Some uninsured motorists will attempt to settle any future claim you may have against them at the scene of the accident. They might realize their potential legal liability and offer you cash on the spot or a lump sum cash payment in the immediate future in exchange for your promise not to file a report or claim with your insurer.
Resist any temptation you have to settle the matter with the uninsured driver. Although the prospect of an immediate cash payment might sound lucrative, such payments rarely cover all out-of-pocket expenses and deductibles you will have to pay.
Moreover, accepting cash or check payment as a settlement may impact your and your car accident lawyer's ability to pursue additional compensation from the uninsured driver later.
File a Claim With Your Insurance Company
If the person who caused your car collision did not have insurance, you still need to involve your insurance provider. Because your Virginia auto insurance policy likely contains coverage for injuries and damage caused by uninsured motorists, your provider may offer you some financial compensation.
This initial compensation from your insurance provider may help you address some of your immediate expenses, but not all of them. Receiving such compensation may eliminate your ability to pursue additional compensation from the at-fault driver.
Insurance claims are time-sensitive, so you must file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible. The fact that an uninsured driver caused your crash does not invalidate any procedures or limitations on coverage established by your insurance company.
Some insurance companies require you to present claims within a specific time. Your failure to abide by such limitations and procedures can result in you not receiving the compensation you otherwise deserve.
Even a car accident attorney cannot undo a late insurance claim.
Speak With a Virginia Car Accident Lawyer
You should make an appointment and speak with a knowledgeable car accident lawyer soon after your accident. Although you may have the right to pursue the full measure of financial damages you need for your losses, this right does not last long.
You may have as little as two years from the crash to initiate a lawsuit against the uninsured at-fault driver.
Additionally, lawsuits involving uninsured motorists can quickly become challenging to pursue if too much time passes between the crash and the start of the lawsuit. The uninsured driver may disappear. Witnesses and records that you need to substantiate your claims are also more liable to become lost or destroyed with time.
For these reasons, speaking with a qualified Virginia car accident attorney shortly after your accident can increase the chances of being able to hold the uninsured motorist accountable.