Even when liability is clearly established after an accident, a victim’s recovery from injuries sustained in an auto accident is often limited by the ability of the at-fault party, or parties, to pay compensation for the victim’s damages. Most commonly, the majority of an auto accident recovery comes from one or more insurance companies. Unfortunately, if a driver without insurance injures you, or your injuries exceed the scope of the at-fault driver’s coverage, the situation could become more complicated.

Washington State’s Mandatory Auto Insurance Law

Washington state law requires all drivers to carry auto liability insurance and proof that they have insurance. The law requires anyone who drives a motor vehicle in the state to do one of the following:

  • Carry liability insurance- you must have liability limits of at least $25,000 for injuries or death to another person, $50,000 for injuries or death to all other people, and $10,000 for damage to another person’s property
  • Pay a deposit to the Washington State Treasurer, or
  • Have a liability bond of at least $60,000

This law does not apply to motorcycles, motor scooters, police or government-owned vehicles, or any specially licensed “horseless carriage vehicles” more commonly referred to as antique or collector vehicles. However, a driver is still responsible for any damages or injuries that result from the use of any of these exempt vehicles.

Most drivers choose to maintain coverage in excess of these minimum statutory requirements in order to protect their personal assets. For drivers who own homes, their homeowners insurance may provide some additional protection in the event their personal liability exceeds their auto insurance coverage.

How a Washington State Auto Accident Attorney Can Help

Insurance plays a key role in protecting parties from uninsured and underinsured drivers, who seem to be multiplying in today’s down-turned economy with increasing insurance, fuel and cost of living expenses. In situations where the insurance coverage is simply not there, injured drivers may be able to recover from their own insurance companies if they purchased additional protection against uninsured and underinsured drivers. As a last resort, a Washington State auto accident attorney may still hold the at-fault driver personally liable, attaching the person’s assets or even garnishing wages if necessary.

Obtaining the best recovery for clients means knowing how all these types of insurance work together and being creative in identifying other parties who may have contributed to the accident and may be partially liable.

Contact Seattle Car Accident Attorneys

If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, an experienced Seattle car accident attorney at Phillips Law Firm can help you obtain the compensation you need to recover. If you are interested in learning more about your legal options, call us at 1-800-708-6000. Our Seattle personal injury lawyers are waiting to assist you 24/7, offering a free case evaluation. Remember our no fee promise. If we do not recover anything for you, you do not owe us an attorney fee.

The personal injury lawyers at Phillips Law Firm have successfully represented injured individuals and their families in Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver, Bellevue, Everett, Kent, Auburn, Renton, Federal Way, Bellingham, Marysville, Lakewood, Redmond, Shoreline, and throughout the State of Washington.


Out of nowhere a car slams into yours at a stoplight. The “at-fault” driver quickly admits blame, but he doesn’t have adequate insurance coverage to pay your bills. Yet when you contact your own insurance company to help pay for damages and injuries, your claim is inexplicably denied. Sound familiar?

Insurance companies have tactics designed to reduce the amount of compensation they pay policyholders and injured drivers. They may even resort to unfairly denying your claim in the hopes that you will take this as a final decision. They may claim that you do not have adequate coverage or that since you accepted money from the “at-fault” driver, then you are not eligible to file a claim with your own UIM policy. When this occurs, it is important to seek legal counsel immediately.

At the Phillips Law Firm, we know that insurance companies don’t have their policyholder’s best interest in mind. While they promise “peace of mind” and that they are “on your side”, nothing is farther from the truth. What is most important to know is that your insurance company’s denial of a claim is NOT the final word. You have many legal options and an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you understand the pros and cons of each of those options.

One of the first things your injury attorney will do is determine why the insurance company is denying your claim. Your attorney will review your accident closely and introduce new evidence to the insurance company that they may have overlooked when denying your claim. Oftentimes, insurance adjusters do not understand the legal meanings and ramifications of your policy language. Your attorney can help them understand your policy better and how you are legally entitled to coverage.

If even after further evidence and law is presented, your insurance company still denies your claim, you may need to file a lawsuit against the insurance company. After a lawsuit is filed, your attorney will begin preparation for litigation in a court of law.

Remember, just because your insurance company denies your claim, does not mean you are not covered. Insurance companies often engage in devious and deceptive practices and are in the habit of denying coverage to limit their liabilities. An experienced Seattle attorney won’t let the insurance company take advantage of you.

Contact Seattle Car Accident Lawsuit Attorneys

If your insurance company has unfairly denied your injury claim, an experienced Seattle car accident attorney at Phillips Law Firm can help. If you are interested in learning more about your legal options, call us at 1-800-708-6000. Our Seattle personal injury lawsuit attorneys are waiting to assist you 24/7, offering a free case evaluation. Remember our no fee promise. If we do not recover anything for you, you do not owe us an attorney fee.

The personal injury lawyers at Phillips Law Firm have successfully represented injured individuals and their families in Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver, Bellevue, Everett, Kent, Auburn, Renton, Federal Way, Bellingham, Marysville, Lakewood, Redmond, Shoreline, and throughout the State of Washington. 


Laws in Washington State and around the country were passed long ago requiring all drivers carry car insurance to that they can cover any damage or personal injury costs resulting in an accident. I don’t think there’s any doubt in anyone’s mind that this is a good thing, as long as it’s equitable.

As Washington personal injury attorneys with a diverse clientele spanning across all income brackets, we are right in the middle of the insurance issue. That’s why we were a little steamed about a study that came out this week regarding the disparity in charges for car insurance to lower income drivers than higher income drivers.

Lower Income Insurance Study

A new and quite extensive report from the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), an organization that seeks to advance consumer interests through advocacy, research, and education, has shown some major rate disparities by income amongst some of the largest car insurance companies in America.

In the report the authors pointed out that for many poor people, the cost of car insurance can impede car ownership and in cases of lower cost cars, can exceed the cost of the vehicle itself. That has broad economic implications since those without cars have a harder time getting to work, school, day care or the grocery store.

“There is much academic research that clearly shows that if you have ready access to a car, it dramatically improves your economic opportunities,” said Stephen Brobeck, executive director at CFA.

Researchers cited 2006 research that found that those with less education and working in less skilled occupations often pay premiums that were on average 40% higher. Certainly this has many different factors involved in it, but the wider view into the disparity suggests that there may be a larger inequality issue here.

Even though insurers are prohibited from asking for a potential customers income, the authors of the study contend that many of their methods put lower- and moderate-income households with between $20,000 to $40,000 in earnings per year at a disadvantage. The reason for this is that insurers, though not asking directly, have other roundabout questions that are perfectly legal with give them a fairly accurate gauge as to the income of the person they are interviewing.

One of the main reasons for this is that the cheaper the car insurance is on paper, the more the people are paying for the actual coverage. Researchers liken it to going to a store with large items that only wealthy people have access to and getting the item for the same price as a smaller item at another store that poor people frequent. The pricing versus coverage is often wildly disproportionate.

After examining the data and researcher’s coments, the CFA suggests that pricing should be largely influenced by factors that drivers can control, like the cars they drive and how far and safely they drive them.

“Poor people, we know from the data, they spend a lot less on gas, which means they are driving less,” said J. Robert Hunter, co-author of the paper and director of insurance at the group. “So if insurers more fully reflected miles driven in pricing, it would lower the rate for poorer people.”

Determining Rates

Differences in rates are nothing new. If you are a young male who drives a fast car, you know that well. Why? Because males between the ages of 16 and 25 are statistically the most prone to car accidents and most of the accidents are caused by speeding. The numbers ring true regardless of income. These rates come down at a certain point after the driver has proven they are responsible and hit a certain age.

What determines car insurance rates and do they effect the poor disproportionately?

  • Age – Generally, the older you are, the fewer accidents you’ll have than less experienced drivers, particularly teenagers. Insurers charge more if teenagers or young people below age 25 drive your car. No effect.
  • Credit – Insurance companies use FICO scores as a factor in insurance rates. Credit-based insurance scores are based on information like payment history, bankruptcies, collections, outstanding debt and length of credit history. Regular, on-time credit card and mortgage payments affect a score positively, while late payments affect a score negatively. Yes. Poor people generally have lower credit ratings overall.
  • Location – Local statistics influence Insurance rates, such as the number of accidents, car thefts and lawsuits, as well as the cost of medical care and car repair. Yes. Income is a large determining factor as to the crime rate of they area in which they live.
  • Make and Model – Automobiles that are expensive, have high theft rates, higher repair cost or have poor safety records cost more to insure. No effect.
  • Odometer Reading – If you drive a lot you increase your chance for accidents, the more you’ll pay. If you drive less than 10,000 miles a year, you will pay less. Some companies will give discounts to policyholders who carpool. Yes. As inner cities with more access to public transit become more gentrified, it forces the poor to move farther out, forcing them to put more miles on their odometer to reach their jobs.
  • Time Without Insurance – Plus there’s a time lag. You may also pay more if you haven’t been insured for a number of years. Yes. Poor people do not pay for items that they don’t use. If they live near their work, then they may have long periods where they do not drive.
  • Safe Driving Record – If you have a lot of accidents and serious traffic violations, the higher your rate of course. No effect.
  • Size of Policy – You’ll pay more for a large policy. Generally, insurance companies offer discounts if you have your homeowners and auto insurance policies with them. Yes. Many lower income people do not own their homes, boats, etc and do not have access to bundling discounts.

Seattle Car Accident Lawyer

There is a much larger poor population than there is rich, so it would be unreasonable to say that poor people get into more accidents based purely on population. There is also little to no evidence that, just because a person is poor, they are more prone to accidents.

We’re concerned about this issue because insurance companies will use any excuse to gouge the public and when one of their loyal customers receives a personal injury in a car wreck, they do everything in their power to avoid paying what they agreed to pay in order for the individual to receive proper care and/or just compensation.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident anywhere in Washington state, you need a skilled lawyer to deal with the insurance companies to assure you the best settlement. Call the Seattle car accident attorneys at Phillips Law Firm for a free consultation.