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You’re sitting at a stoplight, waiting for it to turn green, when all of a sudden, your car jolts forward. Your head whips back and forth, and your seatbelt digs painfully into your shoulder. You’ve just been rear-ended, and you think you might have whiplash and a few bruises to show for it.

While you’re in shock and your heart is racing, you quickly determine that you’re okay. You also tell yourself that at least the other driver’s insurance will pay to repair the damage—both to your car and your body.

Driving without auto insurance is not recommended—in fact, it’s outright illegal in many states—but that doesn’t stop 10 percent of Virginia drivers from opting for the $500 Uninsured Motor Vehicle fee required to drive an uninsured vehicle legally. Otherwise, the minimum requirements in Virginia are $25,000/$50,000 for bodily injury per person/per accident and $20,000 for property damage per accident.

So, what if you find out that the driver who caused your accident is uninsured?

The answer largely depends on the laws in your state. Those with traditional tort insurance laws, including Virginia, require the insurer of the at-fault driver to cover the damages. If you caused the accident, your insurance will pay (and your premiums may go up as a result). If the other driver caused the accident, and they don’t have insurance, you have two primary options:

  • Sue the at-fault driver: People are most likely to lack car insurance if they have a hard time making ends meet. This means they probably don’t have a lot of assets. Still, a lawyer can help you get the money you deserve to help pay for medical bills, repair your car, and compensate you for pain and suffering.
  • Obtain uninsured motorist coverage: This add-on to Virginia’s minimum auto insurance coverage guarantees that if an uninsured driver hits your car, your insurance provider will pay, even under traditional tort laws. Under-insured coverage is also included, which requires your insurance company to fill the gap if the damages are higher than the at-fault driver’s liability coverage.

Even in states with no-fault laws—where each insurance company pays for that driver’s injuries and damages, no matter who was at fault—obtaining uninsured motorist coverage may still be worthwhile. This can help you get more money from your own insurer if the other driver’s coverage is limited. Suing the at-fault driver may also be necessary to cover the cost of severe damages.

The auto accident attorneys at the Law Firm of Kevin Paul Childers can help you receive the compensation you deserve following a car accident, no matter the details surrounding the collision. Whether you were at fault or not, and regardless of the insurance coverage situation, it never hurts to speak with a lawyer after a car accident. Please contact us to schedule your initial consultation today.