Getting into a car accident is always a scary experience, but it can also quickly become frustrating when you aren’t sure if your car repair and medical bills will be covered. This is a real struggle in Virginia, where at-fault drivers are not necessarily required to disclose how much insurance coverage they have. Keep the following tips in mind to avoid as many complications as possible.
Know Required Amounts
In Virginia, a car is considered to be “fully insured” with a coverage of $50,000. This is a recent increase after years set at $25,000, but it is still a low amount when it comes to the coverage needed for medical bills and car repairs.
Unfortunately, when an at-fault driver tells you they are fully covered, this is often the amount they have on their policy. What is known as full coverage is more accurately described as minimum coverage. Of course, to make things more complicated, a driver in Virginia is not obligated to tell you how much coverage they actually have, except in a few instances.
Getting to the Bottom of a Virginia Car Insurance Policy
You’ve been in an accident. The other driver is not disclosing their insurance limits. What do you do now? Under Virginia law, you have two options. First, you can sue them. This, unfortunately, makes lawsuits stemming from car accidents more commonplace. If you feel your medical bills are high enough or you have been seriously injured, it might be time to contact a qualified attorney to discuss your option.
A second course of action is pursuant to a Virginia code of law that was added in 2008. Under section 8.01-417, an injured person’s lawyer can only discover available policy limits once their medical bills and lost wages meet or exceed a specific threshold. If you have been injured and sought medical treatment, be sure to keep a record of everything. Once you produce $12,500 worth of medical bills or lost wages from your employer, the at-fault driver’s insurance company must provide you coverage limits within 30 days. You may also need a copy of the police report as proof that your injuries and medical treatment are related to the accident.
There is also a third course of action that comes into play for certain accidents, and that is when the at-fault driver is convicted of DUI and your injuries came from the same incident in that conviction. Filing a police report at the scene of the accident is very important because if a DUI conviction does in fact happen, you have proof of the date, time, and circumstances of the accident and how it is related.
Of course, in some instances, a driver will disclose their insurance coverage amount, which will save you all the hassle of a lawsuit or hoping they are convicted on charges. However unfortunately in non-disclosure states like Virginia, this is not usually the case.
Options If a Claim Is Worth More Than the Coverage
If policy limit amounts are disclosed and it doesn’t turn out to be enough coverage, there are still some steps you can take to get things paid for. First, look into your own car insurance policy. You might have what is known as underinsured/uninsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. If you do have this sort of coverage, you will also receive financial assistance from your policy combined with the coverage from the at-fault driver.
The good news? UM/UIM coverage is considered to be “no-fault,” which means your insurance premiums will not be raised if this coverage is used.
Have You Been Injured in a Car Accident?
If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident, you need to speak with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Fairfax, Virginia personal injury law office at 703.277.2811 to schedule your free consultation.