I Was Hit By An Uninsured Driver — What Do I Do?
In West Virginia, all motorists must buy car insurance to protect themselves and others on the road. Anyone driving without coverage commits a misdemeanor that’s punishable by fines and even jail time.
Despite this, 9.2% of motorists in West Virginia are uninsured. If you’re unlucky enough to be hit by one, you’re probably wondering what to do next.
The good news is you may be able to file a claim under the uninsured motorist provision of your auto insurance policy. This provision allows you to recoup some of your losses if the negligent driver in your accident doesn’t have insurance. But it’s best to consult a lawyer to discuss your options.
A car accident lawyer in West Virginia can help you navigate the claims process and ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
Steps to Take After an Accident With an Uninsured Motorist
You should take a few key steps if you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist:
- Call the police and file a report.
- Collect evidence, including pictures of the damage and witness statements.
- Contact your own insurance company and let them know what happened. They may be able to help you cover the costs of the accident.
- Consider contacting an experienced car accident attorney to discuss your legal options. An experienced lawyer can help you understand your rights and options and help you get the compensation you deserve. They can also help gather all evidence for you. If you’re injured, the lawyer can also call a doctor to inform them that you were in an accident with an uninsured driver.
How to Get Compensation After an Accident With an Uninsured Driver
Here are some ways to recover your damages. Note that a personal injury lawyer can work with you to determine the best way to get compensated.
Use Your MedPay Coverage
West Virginia is an “at-fault” state, meaning the driver who causes the accident is responsible for the damages. Suppose they’re uninsured, but you carry the MedPay coverage on your auto insurance policy. In that case, you can use it to cover your medical bills after an accident, regardless of who was at fault.
MedPay covers medical expenses incurred as a result of an accident. It can pay for hospitalization, surgery, rehabilitation, and other medical costs. The coverage can also be used to cover lost wages and funeral expenses. States like New York and New Jersey require motorists to buy no-fault insurance, but West Virginia needs proof of fault. This is why it’s crucial to consult a car accident lawyer if you’re hurt in an accident with an uninsured driver.
A lawyer can investigate the accident, determine fault, and gather evidence to support your claim.
Use Your Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage protects you when you’re in an accident with an uninsured or hit-and-run driver. This coverage will cover medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. West Virginia requires drivers to carry a minimum of $25,000 uninsured motor vehicle coverage per person, $25,000 for uninsured property losses, and $50,000 per accident for uninsured bodily injury losses.
Use Your Collision Coverage
After a crash, you may be able to file a claim with your collision coverage to help pay for car damages. Collision coverage is optional insurance that helps to pay for repairs or replacement of your vehicle if it’s damaged in an accident. If you have collision coverage, you will typically have to pay a deductible before your insurance starts to cover the cost of repairs. However, collision coverage can help to protect you financially if you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver.
File a Lawsuit Against the Uninsured Driver
You can also file a claim against the driver to recover damages. But it’s important to note that this option is only viable if the driver has assets, such as a home or savings, that can be used to pay for your damages. Unfortunately, most uninsured drivers may not have such assets, and filing a lawsuit against them can be a dead end.
What If an Uninsured Driver Was Driving an Insured Car?
If the at-fault driver is uninsured but is driving an insured car, you may still be able to recover damages for your injuries. The insurance company for the car being driven by the uninsured driver may be liable for your injuries under a theory of vicarious liability. Vicarious liability holds an employer or owner liable for the actions of an employee or agent, even if the employer or owner did not directly cause the harm.
To succeed on a vicarious liability insurance claim, you must show that the uninsured driver acted within the scope of their company or employment when they caused the accident. If you successfully prove vicarious liability, then the car insurance company for the car will be liable for paying your damages up to the policy limit.
Get Help From a Car Accident Lawyer in West Virginia
If you’ve been in an accident with an uninsured driver in West Virginia, it’s important to know your legal options. You may use your insurance coverage to pay for damages or file a personal injury claim against the driver.
But it’s important to speak with a car accident lawyer to understand your legal options and protect your rights.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do if I am in an accident with an uninsured driver?
Following the accident, you should first call the police and file a report. You should also exchange insurance information with the other driver and take photos of the damage to both vehicles. It’s important to keep track of any medical treatment you receive and records of any lost wages.
You can then contact a car accident lawyer to discuss your legal options.
How do I find out if a driver is insured or not?
In West Virginia, you can check the insurance status of a driver through the WV Division of Motor Vehicles or online through WV DMV. You could also ask the uninsured or underinsured driver to see their insurance card after an accident, but be aware they could present false or expired information.
What if the accident was my fault?
You may still recover damages even if you were at fault in West Virginia by filing a claim with your own car insurance coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage is optional insurance that will pay for your damages in such situations.