Filing An Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Claim In Virginia Or Washington, D.C.
All motorists in Virginia and Washington, D.C. are required to carry minimum liability insurance. This insurance covers damages resulting from bodily injury, death, and property damage to others in the event of a car accident. Unfortunately, some motorists choose to drive without insurance, which can leave accident victims in a tough place.
To counter this, Virginia and D.C. also require drivers to have uninsured motorist/underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage as part of their auto insurance policies. When you are hit by an uninsured driver, you can turn to your UM coverage and seek compensation for your damages. With underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, you can seek additional compensation when the driver who caused the accident does not have sufficient insurance to cover the full cost of your damages.
How Much UM/UIM Coverage Is Available?
Virginia law mandates the following uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage:
- At least $25,000 in bodily injury per person
- At least $50,000 in bodily injury per accident
- Up to $20,000 in property damage (with a $200 deductible)
You can elect to increase these limits, but your UM/UIM bodily injury coverage cannot exceed your bodily injury liability limit, and your UM/UIM property damage limits also cannot be higher than your property damage liability coverage.
In Washington, D.C., you must have the following UM/UIM coverage:
- $25,000 in bodily injury per person
- $50,000 in bodily injury per accident
- $5,000 in property damage
Again, your limits can be higher, but you must also raise your liability limits for bodily injury and/or property damage to increase your UM/UIM limits.
How Does Uninsured Motorist Coverage Work?
While they are often grouped together, uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage are two separate types of insurance and apply in different situations.
Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage kicks in when you are injured by another driver who does not have the mandated minimum liability coverage. UM coverage also protects you in the event that you are involved in a hit-and-run accident.
Because you are not required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance in Virginia, you often must file a claim against the at-fault driver to recover compensation after an accident. But, if the at-fault driver does not have insurance, and you do not have any additional coverage beyond the minimum liability requirements, you will obviously have a hard time recovering compensation for your damages. This is where UM coverage comes in.
In Washington, D.C., however, motorists are required to carry PIP insurance, as the district follows a no-fault system. Under this system, injured motorists typically pursue compensation from their own insurance providers, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Because of this, D.C. drivers who are injured by uninsured motorists may have several options when it comes to getting their medical bills paid and their vehicles repaired.
What Is The Purpose Of Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Though similar to uninsured motorist coverage, underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage is a little different. UIM coverage kicks in when an at-fault driver’s insurance is not enough to cover the full cost of the victim’s damages.
For example, if you were hit by someone who only carried the minimum liability insurance coverage, but you sustained catastrophic injuries that resulted in $35,000 in medical bills, the at-fault driver’s minimum liability coverage of $25,000 would not be enough. Here, your UIM coverage would be available to make up the remaining $10,000.
UIM coverage can make all the difference in getting your medical bills paid and your vehicle repaired or replaced. When you sustain significant damages, UIM coverage can protect you from thousands of dollars in medical expenses and property repair costs.
Who Is Covered By UM/UIM Insurance?
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage applies to the owner of the motor vehicle, as well as any family members they live with, anyone who uses the motor vehicle with the owner’s permission, and any passengers in the vehicle at the time of the crash. In other words, if your friend borrows your car with your permission and is hit by an uninsured motorist, they are covered by your UM policy. If you are hit by an uninsured driver while taking your kids to school, your children are also covered.
Why You Need A UM/UIM Attorney
Filing an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim can be very complicated. Although this coverage is supposed to be available to you when you need it, insurance companies often go to great lengths to dispute claims and deny coverage. They may argue that you were partly to blame for the accident and are therefore ineligible to file a claim, or they may dispute the nature and/or severity of your injuries.
At Shevlin Smith, P.C., our Fairfax uninsured/underinsured motorist attorneys can help you fight back against these and other unjust insurance company tactics. We understand how important it is that you get paid as quickly as possible so that you can get back on your feet. To that end, our firm conducts immediate investigations and begins gathering evidence in support of your claim right away. We seek efficient, cost-effective legal solutions, but we also realize that some cases cannot be settled. When the insurance company refuses to play fair, we are prepared to represent you at trial.
Contact Us For A Free Consultation
If you were injured in a hit-and-run accident or if a member of your household was hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, do not hesitate to contact our team at Shevlin Smith, P.C. Based in Fairfax, our personal injury lawyers assist clients with filing UM/UIM claims in Virginia and Washington, D.C. We are well-versed in the various laws and processes involved in getting these claims paid, and we are ready to guide you every step of the way.
We provide free initial consultations and contingency fees, meaning you do not owe any out-of-pocket expenses and do not pay any attorney fees unless/until we recover compensation for you.
To learn more, please call our Fairfax uninsured/underinsured motorist lawyers at 703-634-7350.