If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident in West Virginia caused by the negligence of another driver, you may have to file a claim under the uninsured or underinsured motorist provision of your auto insurance policy.
These related but different provisions of your auto insurance policy will be applicable if the at-fault driver in your accident does not have insurance or has insufficient insurance to cover your damages. Below, we will provide you with information about these two types of coverage and why they are important.
What is Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Underinsured motorist coverage may pay for your medical bills and damaged property if the at-fault driver in your accident does not carry a high enough amount of liability coverage to cover your losses.
As an example, if you sustain a personal injury in a motor vehicle accident that requires $30,000 in medical expenses, you should receive at least $30,000 in compensation. However, if the negligent driver only carries a policy with a limit of $25,000, they are considered to be underinsured, and their policy will not cover the full amount of compensation that you require. When this is the case, the underinsured motorist coverage on your policy should kick in to cover the rest of your compensation.
A car accident case that involves an underinsured motorist is different than an accident that involves an uninsured motorist because it often takes time to realize the at-fault driver is in fact, underinsured. The only way to know if the at-fault driver is underinsured is based on the amount of damages you acquire in your accident. In many cases, it will take time to determine the compensation you need while it is decided what type of medical treatment you need, how much work you’re going to miss, your lost wages, etc.
What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage in West Virginia is meant to pay your medical bills and damage to your property if you are involved in an accident that was caused by a motorist with no automobile insurance.
If this is the case, you can choose to sue the at-fault driver, however, this may not be the best option for you because most people who do not have automobile liability insurance are unable to pay for your damages out of pocket. Due to this reasoning, your best option for recovering compensation will come from filing an uninsured motorist claim with your insurance company.
It is likely that you will find out rather quickly if the at-fault driver is uninsured. This could come to light at the scene of the accident, or shortly thereafter. If this is the case, the police should inform you right away. If the police do not investigate your accident (always call the police after an accident), be sure to get all contact information from the other driver. Once the other driver informs you that they are not insured, call your insurance company immediately.
Is It Required to Have Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
In West Virginia, drivers are required to carry $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident in Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM coverage). Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM Coverage) is not required, but rather, is an optional coverage that you may elect to carry, or reject. If you happen to be involved in an accident caused by the negligence of someone other than yourself who is underinsured or uninsured and you do not have these types of coverage, it is highly unlikely you will be able to recover the proper amount of compensation for your damages. If the negligent party is underinsured, you will only be awarded compensation up to their policy limit, and if they are uninsured, you could be at risk for receiving no compensation at all if you don’t have UM coverage.
The best way to avoid being cut short is to ensure that you have a valid insurance policy with the state required UM coverage, and, to purchase the optional UIM coverage for your auto insurance policy. These coverages can protect you from receiving less compensation than you deserve, or no compensation at all.
Contact Our West Virginia Car Accident Lawyers
If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident with an underinsured or uninsured driver in West Virginia, you need to act quickly in filing your UM or UIM claim. Contact the car accident lawyers at Colombo Law so we can assist you in finding compensation for your damages. At Colombo Law, we care deeply about achieving justice for our injured clients.