Last week’s head-on collision in SoDo left three people hospitalized and traffic snarled for over five hours.
If you’re injured in an accident like this how are you going to get paid for your damages?
Usually the answer is insurance. There are a number of potential policies that may apply:
1. At-fault driver’s policy
With a few exceptions Washington drivers are required to carry auto insurance with minimum liability limits of:
· $25,000 of bodily injury or death of 1 person in any 1 accident.
· $50,000 of bodily injury or death of any 2 people in any 1 accident.
· $10,000 of injury to or destruction of property of others in any 1 accident.
2. Owner of car driven by at-fault driver
Generally auto insurance policies cover not only the persons listed on the policy but also “permissive drivers.”
For example Owner lends his car to his neighbor. Neighbor gets into an accident. Owner’s policy will cover the accident. (Because Owner gave Neighbor permission to drive the car, Neighbor is covered primarily by Owner’s insurance. Neighbor’s insurance, if any, may come into play secondarily if damages exceed Owner’s coverage.)
There is an important exception where the car is made available for regular use.
For example Owner makes his car available for regular use by a nanny. Nanny uses the car and gets into an accident. Owner’s policy will not cover the accident (unless the nanny is specifically listed on the policy).
3. Uninsured or underinsured insurance (UIM)
UIM comes into play where the at-fault driver didn’t have insurance or didn’t have enough insurance. (UIM coverage also applies to hit and run accidents—there is a presumption that treats the hit and run driver as uninsured.)
With UIM your insurance company “steps into the shoes” of the uninsured or underinsured driver and pays your remaining damages. (And making a claim under your UIM policy won’t increase your premiums.)
An experienced personal injury attorney can help you utilize these options to maximize your recovery.