Auto accidents

Is there a difference between uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage?

By March 29, 2017 No Comments

There is a distinct difference between uninsured motorist coverage and under-insured motorist coverage. Either one can apply in some situations, as individuals who are uninsured are surely under-insured as well. But, the court may determine which policy rider applies based on the material case facts of an accident claim. In states like California with low required auto insurance coverage statutes, the under-insured rider coverage is probably the most utilized additional protection. But, it is important to note that using the rider also means the claim will be submitted to the injured claimant’s own insurance company. This could put a claimant in an adversarial situation with their own insurance company when the insurance adjusters deny the extra benefit without being directed by the court. This is especially important in fault states like California that require an injured auto accident victim to pursue damages from an at-fault driver as a first legal financial recovery option. The possibility for a denied or defended accident claim means that is usually vital for the injured party to retain an experienced car accident lawyer to represent the case, especially if the final determination finds its way to court.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured motorist coverage is exactly what it says. It can be used when being in a crash with an uninsured driver, of which 12.6% of all California drivers qualify. Individuals who carry uninsured and under-insured protection riders on their personal auto insurance policy can file an injury claim with their own insurance company when the driver can be identified and has no auto insurance coverage or when they are involved in a hit-and-run accident with a driver who has not been located or identified. In an at-fault state like California, the inability to identify the hit-and-run driver means that there is no respondent party to pursue for damages. However, in cases where the uninsured driver can be identified, your own insurance company can provide legal representation for the uninsured driver to handle their case. Many insurance providers will require legal proof in most instances that the driver was indeed uninsured and that the injured plaintiff received no financial recovery through a lawsuit.

Under-insured Motorist Coverage

Under-insured motorist coverage could apply in practically any accident claim in California because the state minimums for auto insurance protection are set at $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident. That low coverage amount could be reached regarding medical bills in very short order with even nominal accident injuries being claimed. Serious long-term injury claims can be very difficult when the victim is seeking whole financial recovery for pecuniary damages as well as non-economic pain-and-suffering damages. While property damage may not be included unless it is specifically included in the policy, under-insured motorist coverage is an excellent additional insurance option because the increase in premiums is reasonable and the additional coverage can be provided in increased amounts.

What Uninsured and Under-insured Protection Covers

Uninsured protection cases normally only apply to medical bills, lost wages, and non-economic pain-and-suffering recovery, but coverage levels can vary based on the policy holder’s decision on extra coverage. Both are effectively a second insurance plan. However, it is important to understand that the level of uninsured and under-insured protection cannot not exceed the amount of coverage the policy holder carries on their primary auto insurance policy. For those who only carry the basic state policy amount, the level of uninsured and under-insured coverage cannot be higher. So, for those drivers who want additional uninsured and under-insured protection amounts, it will also be necessary to increased personal liability insurance. And, property damage must be specifically carried for coverage directed at the repair or replacement of the vehicle.

Auto accident cases that include uninsured or under-insured motorist protection can be very complicated and long-term settlement negotiation situations. Just because an injured plaintiff is filing for damages with their own insurance provider does not mean the insurance company will not use every legal means available to lessen or defend the case, including an attempt to increase the comparative negligence percentage of their own client. This potential problem alone is enough to consider making sure you retain solid representation from an experienced Los Angeles personal injury law firm that knows what problems to expect in an accident injury settlement.

If the negligent defendant decides to file bankruptcy following a court ruling in favor of an injured plaintiff, then the damages could potentially be discharged in a bankruptcy.

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