Under Virginia law, drivers are required to either obtain the minimum mandated level of auto insurance coverage or pay an uninsured motorist fee to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
Although it is clearly stated that all drivers in Virginia must have at least the minimum level of auto insurance, the circumstances surrounding an accident with an uninsured driver are not as straight-forward as you may believe.
Assuming that uninsured driving is a serious crime, new clients often ask us if they can sue an uninsured driver in Virginia to obtain a larger settlement amount. The short answer to this question is no.
In the event of any accident, you are entitled to your medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering and inconvenience. The sum of the settlement claim will not increase based on whether the driver is insured or not.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
When you are the victim of an accident with an uninsured driver, the steps to recover your claim can often become confusing. Why? On every single policy in Virginia, you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage that will pay out your claim directly from your OWN insurance company.
When hit by another driver, it is almost human nature to ask the offending driver for their insurance information to collect compensation from their coverage. However, when hit by an uninsured driver, it is important to realize that it is far easier to receive the payout from your own insurance company.
Why Is It Easier to Receive the Payout From Your Own Insurance Company?
If you are the victim of an accident, chances are high that you want to be reimbursed quickly, right? You are better off receiving your payout from your own insurance company when hit by an uninsured driver because it is likely that the uninsured driver, who you want so badly to sue, does not have any assets to pay out your claim.
Would you really want to risk going to court against someone who probably cannot reimburse you what you are owed? Most people who do not have auto insurance coverage probably do not have a lot of money in their bank accounts.
At best, you could garnish their wages, but how would that help you after an accident? You could possibly take $75 a week from their wages to pay your $10,000 claim, but that could take years for what is actually a relatively small claim.
That is why the uninsured and underinsured policies are in place. To avoid conflict and make sure you receive your payment up front.
The best thing you can do, if you are hit by an uninsured driver, is make a claim against your uninsured motorist coverage. Let your insurance company make the payment to you and then its their problem and not yours.
Your insurance company has the ability, if they find the uninsured driver does have some assets, to file suit in your name or in their own name and collect whatever they paid out to you. Your insurance company has a whole team that can take care of all that, so file the claim, get your money up front and leave the headache to your insurance company.
At the end of the day, it is so much easier to get the money paid up front from your insurance company than trying to chase around an uninsured driver for decades to try and get your entire claim paid.
Trust us, we’re experts on this.