What Should I Do if I Am Hit By An Uninsured Driver?
If you were hit by another vehicle and suffered an injury requiring medical attention, it is important to consider your insurance coverage. You may later find out the other driver did not have sufficient car insurance limits at the time of the accident to cover your medical bills or property damage. What do you do next? Are you completely out of luck?
The answer may depend on the terms of your own insurance. Virginia law mandates that insurance policies carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage providing at least $25,000 for bodily injury to one person or $ 50,000 for bodily injury for two or more persons. In other words, you can make a claim against your own insurance for medical expenses if the other person is uninsured. If an accident is catastrophic, however, these amounts will barely make a dent in the expense of an extended hospital stay. The amounts listed above are only minimums and often times your uninsured/underinsured will match your own policy limits. Therefore, it is important to make sure you have adequate coverage not only for your own liability policy but also for your uninsured/underinsured coverage.
Adequate insurance coverage is key if you intend to file a lawsuit. Even if you obtain a judgment, collecting against the other driver if they are underinsured or uninsured altogether is another story. If they don’t have assets and are unemployed, collecting a penny out of them will be very difficult to say the least. If there are criminal charges, a court may order the other driver to pay restitution to you for your medical bills. Still, this process could take years, and if the other driver is serving a lengthy jail sentence, this can prolong payment even further. Having sufficient uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage can avoid this type of situation.
What about in the event that the other driver has some coverage but not enough to cover your injuries? Virginia law also provides a mechanism for this as well. You may file a claim against the other driver’s insurance for his or her policy limits, and then proceed against your own insurance company for the remainder of your costs. This process is complex and should not be undertaken without the assistance of an attorney.