Washington state requires all drivers to carry liability insurance and proof of auto insurance, including motorcycles (as of July 28, 2019). However, some drivers may not have enough insurance coverage for all the property damage and injuries they caused. Some drivers also choose to drive illegally without auto insurance. In the unlikely event you're involved in an auto accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, here's what you need to know.
If there are injuries
Immediately call 911 an request emergency assistance.
Never leave the scene of the accident
Even if there are no visible injuries and the accident seems minor, don't leave the scene without calling the police.
Get as much information as possible
If you have a cell phone with a camera, take pictures of the vehicle damage. Document as much information as possible about the accident, other vehicle and the other driver. Gather information and photos without interfering with police and emergency responders.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
If your auto policy includes uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, you can file a claim with your own company. Your collision and personal injury protection (PIP) coverage covers damage to your car and reasonable and necessary medical bills.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage may also be used to help pay for damage and injury caused by a hit-and-run accident or a phantom vehicle. You might even have a lower deductible under these circumstances. A phantom vehicle is one that causes injury or damage without making physical contact. An example of this is a car swerving into your lane and causing you to crash to avoid it. Please note, you must report a phantom vehicle accident to the police within 72 hours if you're making an auto insurance claim.
What to do if you don't have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
Your auto policy might not include uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. If you don't have this coverage, you'll need to rely on other coverage you might've bought. Collision coverage, for example, may pay for your damaged car. Personal injury protection can be used for injuries related to the accident.
If you don't have any of these coverages, you'll need to pay for repairs, medical bills (unless you have health insurance), and maybe a rental car. You may then personally pursue the at-fault party directly to recover your costs.