If you were in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, you may have an especially difficult task ahead. An uninsured driver is a driver with no insurance coverage at all; an underinsured driver is one with some coverage, but not enough to cover the damage he or she has caused. (A hit-and-run driver is considered an uninsured motorist, at least until he or she can be identified.)
In Washington, your own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage may cover at least some of your injuries and property damage. But getting hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver may mean there is no money at all to cover your injuries. You are free to sue, of course, but most uninsured or underinsured individuals are not wealthy enough to fully pay for a serious injury. Furthermore, it costs a lot of money to sue, just in expenses alone. Therefore, it may not be advisable to incur substantial expense when there is a low probability of collecting on a judgment obtained in a lawsuit.
We at Davis Law Group always advise people to carry as much uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage that they can afford, and preferably with limits of at least $250,000. This type of coverage supplements your basic auto policy. In fact, UM/UIM coverage is required to be offered to you by the insurance company in the same limits as your basic liability policy unless you reject the coverage in writing.
UM/UIM coverage compensates you for the costs of the accident, up to the limits of the uninsured/underinsured policy. UIM coverage is a floating layer of coverage, which means it is added on top of the at-fault driver’s coverage amount as an additional layer of coverage should you need it. Unfortunately, the actual cost of your injuries can still exceed those limits. And because uninsured/underinsured motorist claims can be difficult to document, some insurance companies make them difficult to collect.
Some accident victims make the mistake of believing that by pursuing a claim for UM/UIM benefits with their own insurance company the process will be much easier and less time-consuming. This belief is often unfounded. Even if you’ve been a loyal paying customer for 25 years and have never made a prior claim, your own insurance carrier may still vigorously contest or defend your claim. This is especially more likely to occur if your injuries are severe, thereby putting a large amount of money at stake in the claim.
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