You are driving on Interstate 664 (I-664) on your way to Chesapeake, Virginia. Suddenly, your are sideswiped by another sedan and forced off the road. The negligent driver decides to drive off without even stopping to check on you. In this situation, who can you take legal action against and how can you recover damages for any injuries suffered in the collision? The answer can be found in your own auto insurance policy.
Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage
If you have a Virginia auto insurance policy, you will have some amount of Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage. This is because Virginia mandates that all auto insurance policies sold in the Commonwealth must have UM/UIM coverage comparable to the amount of bodily injury coverage you have under your policy. So, for example, if you have a $100,000/$300,000 bodily injury policy, you will have $100,000/$300,000 in UM/UIM coverage.
In Virginia, UM coverage still applies even if you are involved in an accident and the unknown or uninsured at-fault driver did not touch your car (i.e. you were forced off the road). This is important because some states require "contact" with another vehicle in order for UM/UIM coverage to apply.
What if you find the at-fault driver, but the driver’s insurance policy is not enough to cover your losses? In this scenario, your UIM coverage kicks in to help offset the difference between your claimed damages and the amount of available coverage. For example, let’s say you have $45,000 in medical bills and $10,000 in lost wages as a proximate result of the auto accident. The at-fault driver only has a $25,000 auto insurance policy while you have $100,000 in UIM coverage. In this scenario, you can pursue the negligent driver's full liability limits (i.e. $25,000), then file a claim with your insurance company to access your UIM coverage to cover the remaining would pay the remaining $30,000 in damages.
Your Auto Insurance Company Will Treat Your Claim Like Any Other
Some people mistakenly believe that if they file a claim with their own auto insurance company, the process will be easier and your claim will get paid quicker because you've been a loyal customer and paid your premiums on time. Unfortunately, that is not reality. All auto insurance companies, including your own, want to generate as much profit as possible. To generate profit, insurance companies do whatever possible to minimize or deny injury claims. You will not get preferential treatment because you are a customer.
This is a big reason why it makes sense to speak to an experienced Chesapeake car accident lawyer about your case. An attorney can help you in assessing the viability of your claim, contact the necessary claims adjusters, and negotiate on your behalf so you can focus on getting back to 100 percent.
To learn more, contact our office today.