Liability insurance protects you if you are sued for causing injuries in an accident and is required by Washington State law to be on your car insurance. At minimum, you must have it. As we’ve discussed in previous articles, PIP and UIM/UM coverages are optional on auto policies. Unlike PIP and UIM/UM, however, liability insurance is meant only for motor vehicle accidents where you are at fault for the accident.
Why Do I Need Liability Insurance?
Liability insurance protects the at fault driver in two ways. First, it compensates the fault free driver and any passengers for damages caused by the accident. Second, the insurance pays to defend the driver in court if a lawsuit is filed seeking damages. If you did not have liability insurance at the time of an accident and you were at fault, the injured parties could take legal action against you and try to collect from your personal assets.
For example, let’s say the injured party’s medical bills were around $25,000.00 but with lost wages and other expenses the injured party’s legal counsel is seeking a $50,000.00 total settlement. You probably don’t have that much money lying around. If you can’t pay then the injured parties attorney may try to get a judgment against you and seize your assets (including bank accounts, wages, home equity, vehicles, and more).
Liability Insurance Limits
When you are shopping for auto insurance, you will come across coverage limits. Since liability insurance is legally required on all auto policies, there are also legal minimums when it comes to liability coverage limits. The minimum coverage limits for Washington State are as follows:
- $10,000.00 for property damage
- $25,000.00 per person for injury or death
- $50,000.00 per accident for injury or death
You can always buy more liability coverage if you feel you need it! People with more assets generally need more insurance and you should consult with your insurance agent to ensure you are adequately protected.
Dealing with Accidents Caused by Someone without Liability Insurance
If you were not at fault in a motor vehicle accident but the at-fault driver does not have liability insurance, you will need to check if you have UIM or UM on your own auto policy. If you do, you can open a claim to receive compensation from your insurance.
If you don’t have UIM or UM, it gets a little trickier having to deal with the at-fault driver themselves for compensation. Either way, you are looking at an uphill battle to negotiating for a fair settlement. Experienced attorneys like The Advocates can help you in dealing with your own insurance company and/or the at-fault driver. Your consultation is free so give us a call today!