What Are The Auto Insurance Laws In Virginia, Maryland And DC?

By Peter DePaolis

Injury Attorneys Discuss Auto Insurance Laws In DC


Even though nearly every state has laws that require drivers to have auto insurance, a study by the Insurance Research Council found that about one out of every eight drivers in the United States remains uninsured.

If you are involved in an auto accident caused by an uninsured driver, you may not know what to do and could even end up with the bill for your car repairs and medical expenses. You should not have to pay these costs. Many drivers are unaware that they may have legal options to gain compensation under their own policies with personal injury protection (PIP), uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage or by filing personal injury lawsuits against the other driver at fault.

man at a wreck looking at his insurance cardsOur D.C. car accident attorneys have several decades of combined legal experience, and five of our attorneys have been designated Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers in recognition for their work in personal injury law. Our team of Washington, D.C. personal injury lawyers explain below what you need to know about auto insurance laws for the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, and how you can recover compensation if you have been hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist.

Is Auto Insurance Required in Washington, D.C.?

Drivers in Maryland and Washington, D.C. are required by law to have auto insurance, but only in limited amounts. Virginia drivers are not required to be insured. However, if a person chooses not to purchase auto insurance, he or she must pay the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles a fee to drive uninsured.

Unfortunately, too many drivers do not have auto insurance even when it is a legal requirement. Other drivers do not purchase enough liability insurance to pay out claims against them, which can make it difficult for car accident victims to secure the compensation they need to pay for their medical costs, car repairs and other expenses after a wreck. Our injury attorneys explain the following insurance terms you need to understand when buying a policy or filing a claim with an insurance company.

What to Know About PIP and UM/UIM Coverage

Personal injury protection (PIP) is insurance coverage you can elect to have on your policy that can help pay for lost wages and medical expenses that arise after a car accident, regardless of who was at fault.

Uninsured coverage is designed to pay for damages caused by an uninsured driver. If you are hit by an uninsured driver and have this coverage, you file a claim against your own insurance policy. However, you will only receive compensation within the limits of the policy, meaning that if an uninsured driver causes serious injury or wrongful death, compensation may not be adequate.

Underinsured coverage allows you to receive benefits if a driver with very limited coverage causes an auto accident. This is only applicable if your coverage amount is greater than the other driver’s coverage. If you have underinsured coverage, you can make a claim against your own policy for the deficient amount. This is the most efficient method to protect you and your family.

To check if your policy has PIP, uninsured or underinsured coverage, look at your Declaration page for your policy or call our attorneys for help determining your best legal options after an accident.

What are the Insurance Requirements in Washington, D.C.?

The minimum auto insurance coverage required in Washington, D.C. is:

  • $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident for bodily injury
  • $10,000 in property damage

Washington, D.C. residents must also have uninsured/underinsured coverage in matching amounts for personal injury and $5,000 for property damage.

Washington, D.C. drivers are not required to have PIP, also called a “no-fault” option that covers them and their cars regardless of who is at fault in auto accidents. In Washington, D.C., a person injured in an accident must choose to either receive PIP benefits or file a lawsuit against the driver who caused the accident—but not both.

This means that if you elect to take PIP benefits, you cannot later file suit against a driver if your injuries turn out to be worse than you expected. Whether to accept PIP coverage after an accident or to file suit will depend on a number of factors, which is why it is extremely important to speak to a personal injury attorney before making any decision after a car accident in DC.

If You Are Involved in a Car Accident, Talk to Our DC Injury Lawyers at No Cost Today

Our Washington, D.C. personal injury lawyers can help you through the insurance challenges that stem from a car accident. Whether the accident was the result of distracted driving, driver error, negligence or intoxication, our experienced car insurance lawyers and legal team can answer your questions and will fight for your rights.

Contact us online, or call us at our DC location.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.