Your first thought when the at-fault driver tells you he or she has no auto insurance is that you will file a lawsuit in the Washington courts to get the money to cover your damages. After all, if you file a claim against your own insurance, the rates may go up.
Is litigation the right answer?
According to FindLaw, you should make sure you get a copy of the police report. This could be helpful to you in determining whether you would receive full compensation. In Washington, the liability for the accident is divided among all the parties who contributed to it. If you were speeding when the other driver hit you at the intersection, for example, the judge may determine that you are also at fault and reduce the amount awarded.
On the other hand, the report could reveal that faulty road design, a defective car part or some other factor also contributed to your accident. You may be able to receive considerable compensation from other parties if they contributed to the accident.
You probably will not head straight to court if you file a lawsuit. In fact, you may not go to court at all. The Washington State Legislature notes that there is a mandatory arbitration program for cases involving up to $50,000 in damages. In this process, you and the other party would appear before a panel of arbitrators rather than a judge. This could be beneficial because crowded court dockets could keep your case tied up for longer, and the outcome of arbitration is just as binding as a court decision.
This general information does not address all the factors that may be at play in any given motor vehicle accident; therefore, it should not be interpreted as legal advice.