What if I Don’t Have Insurance? Filing an Accident Claim in West Virginia

According to the Insurance Information Institute, in 2015, about 10 percent of West Virginia’s drivers did not have auto insurance. However, according to West Virginia’ laws, all motorists must carry a minimum amount of car insurance. If an individual fails to do so, he or she may face penalties, which often include fines.

Minimum Coverage and Suing for Damages

The state of West Virginia has a tort system, meaning that a driver who is found to be at fault for an accident may be sued for damages including medical costs, vehicle damage, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. The law requires that drivers carry the minimum coverage:

  • $10,0000 in property damage liability
  • $10,000 in uninsured motorist property damage
  • $20,000 in bodily injury per person per accident
  • $20,000/$40,000 in uninsured motorist bodily injury

Fault vs. No-Fault States

Since West Virginia is a fault state, the driver who is responsible for the accident is also financially responsible for any injuries and damages to the other motorist. While no-fault states the insurance companies of both parties will pay for damages that have been incurred by its policyholder (irrespective of whose fault it is), in fault states such as West Virginia, drivers have a few of different options when it comes to recovering damages if they are injured due to an auto accident:

  1. File a claim with their own auto insurance company;
  2. File a claim with the other driver’s insurance company; or
  3. File a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver.

But What if You Don’t Have Coverage?

If you have been injured in a car accident in West Virginia but do not have insurance, if the other driver caused the crash you may file a claim with his or her insurance company. You may however still have fines for failing to meet the minimum coverage, but you may still file a claim seeking damages. The big problem is confirming who was actually at fault.

Methods for Helping to Prove Fault

When the blame is unclear or both drivers are responsible for the incident, it often takes the knowledge of an experienced auto attorney to know how to negotiate with the insurance companies, prove fault, and obtain a fair settlement. There are a few different ways in which to prove fault in such an accident:

  1. Police Report – a police report is extremely helpful in proving fault. Whether the police have indicated that they were able to determine the cause of the crash or if one of the drivers was found to be under the influence, it is useful in proving a case
  2. Vehicle Hit from Behind – In almost all scenarios, if a vehicle has been hit from behind, it will likely be determined to be the fault of the car behind the one that was hit. Traffic laws are set so as to demand that drivers leave enough space between vehicles so as to be able to stop suddenly. Usually distracted driving is to blame for rear-end collisions.
  3. Rules of the Road – It can be very helpful in determining fault to look at whether or not any traffic laws were violated during the course of the incident. This includes behavior that is found to be reckless or careless.

If you are able to prove that the fault from the accident lies with the other driver, you may file a claim against his or her insurance company to seek damages. This holds true even if you do not have insurance coverage yourself. However, if the other driver is also uninsured, you will not be able to file a claim unless a third motorist or government entity has been involved and if they either caused or contributed to the accident.