Do I Have An Uninsured Motorist Claim?
- October 4, 2017
Seemingly simply auto accident claims can prove to be far less simple than anticipated. If a driver goes through a red light and makes an illegal left turn, he/she displays a flagrant disregard for the traffic laws. Upon hitting another vehicle, the negligent driver likely would be held liable for any property damage or injuries he/she caused. The injured party would then file a claim against the other driver’s auto liability policy.
What happens when the negligent driver fails to carry state-mandated insurance? Depending on the circumstances, the injured party can explore options to file an uninsured motorist claim.
Filing an Uninsured Motorist Claim
Two elements must be in place in order to file an uninsured motorist claim. First, the driver must be someone who isn’t carrying any insurance. Second, the injured party must have already purchased uninsured motorist coverage on his/her policy. The person injured could be another driver, a passenger, or even a pedestrian. As long as the individual has some sort of uninsured motorist coverage in place, filing a claim is possible.
This leads to another point that bears mentioning. With an uninsured motorist claim, the injured party makes a claim against his/her own insurance company. With auto liability claims, the negligent driver’s insurance company addresses the losses.
Why Filing a Claim is Necessary
Car accidents could bring forth significant injuries. Even with health insurance, an injured person might be left with significant expenses. Hospital stays, rehabilitative care, and prescriptions all lead to owed debts. Lost wages from work compound the matter. And then there is the issue of pain and suffering.
A person injured in a car accident should be able to recover damages he/she deserves. Unfortunately, even the process of filing a claim with your own insurance company could come with potential hassles. Perhaps working with an attorney to address the claim may be wise. The attorney could also come up with an accurate accounting of damages to ensure a client receives the maximum amount of compensation.
Underinsured Motorists: Claims and Litigation
In certain instances, a driver may carry liability insurance but the amount won’t be enough to cover losses. If the driver has $100,000 in liability insurance and damages exceed $200,000, the injured party would file an underinsured motorist claim. Underinsured motorist coverage commonly goes together with uninsured motorist coverage. In other words, if you have one then you have the other. A key point to realize here is you are subject to the limitations of the policy.
What does that mean? If the driver’s liability limit is $100,000, your underinsured coverage is $50,000, and the inflicted loss is $200,000, the maximum insurance settlements available would be $150,000.
In order to procure the additional $50,000, you would need to sue the negligent driver. People who buy too little insurance do not always realize they can be sued beyond their policy limits. Cutting the plaintiff off at the insurance limit is not something the defendant can force. Suing beyond the insurance policy limits is one thing an attorney can do for a client.
No Insurance Options Exist
A difficult situation can exist when a negligent driver lacks insurance coverage and the injured person injured lacks uninsured/underinsured motorist protection. Filing a lawsuit to recover damages becomes the only option since there is no insurance company to file a claim with. The process of civil litigation could drag out for some time. Regardless, a civil lawsuit provides a viable means in which someone can receive compensation for injuries and property damage.
Suing the Insurance Company
As distasteful as it sounds, the insurance company may choose to deny an uninsured motorist claim. The reasons insurance company chooses not to pay can vary. A denied claim, however, does not mean all hope is lost. Customers can sue an insurance company for bad faith and on other grounds. Skilled lawyers may be able to defeat a backtracking insurance company in court.
Sadly, the insurance industry has a track record for trying to get out of paying on claims. This is why so many suits are filed against insurance giants. Hiring the right attorney plays a huge role in the potential to successfully litigate against an insurance company.