If you’ve been in a car accident, you may rely on the fact that auto insurance can cover your medical bills and repair expenses. Being hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist can feel like a nightmare. You may not know what your options are if you’ve been involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist, or the other party’s insurance won’t completely cover your damages. So what can you do?
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Policy
You may carry a policy just for cases such as these, when the liable party’s insurance isn’t enough to cover the accident, or they have no coverage at all. Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UIM) policies are usually purchased in addition to your legally required coverage. These policies cover your damages if your accident won’t be covered by another insurance policy, due to a driver who doesn’t have adequate insurance.
For an uninsured motorist, this policy fills in for the responsible party’s insurance and covers your associated expenses. If the other driver is underinsured, your UIM policy can be used to supplement the other driver’s insurance when settling your claim. This only occurs if your UIM policy has a higher limit than the other driver’s insurance. If your policy is for $150,000 and their policy covers $100,000, you will be able to recover $100,000 from the other driver’s insurance. You will also make a claim for $50,000 from your own insurance, assuming your damages are greater than the amount of your UIM policy. Your UIM policy cannot exceed the amount of your regular coverage.
Filing a Claim Involving an Uninsured or Underinsured Driver
If you need to file a claim to recover damages from your own UIM policy, you will need to let your insurance company know as soon as you can. Your company may have a strict deadline for filing a UIM claim, so you will need to work quickly. If the other party can’t or won’t give you their insurance information, inform your insurance company immediately that you are intending to file a UIM claim against your insurer.
If you are dealing with an underinsured driver, your claim may take a bit longer to develop. Once your medical treatment progresses and your repair quotes are returned, you may discover that the value of your accident is more than the other driver’s policy will cover. Again, time is of the essence, so it is important to inform your insurer as soon as possible if you are going to file a claim against them.
Generally, once your claims have been filed, they will progress similarly to a typical car accident claim. You will have to go through a pretrial investigation, disclose your medical records, and gather depositions of witnesses. A key difference is that you cannot sue your own insurance if you are unable to settle on an amount. Instead, your claim will go to arbitration, where a panel of arbitrators will decide the outcome. This is less formal than court, but the losing side has limited rights to appeal the decision. Once the decision has been made, the losing side will have to accept the decision.
Because time is such an important factor in these types of cases, it is critical that you contact a skilled car accident attorney as soon as you are able. Look for a lawyer with experience in underinsured or uninsured motorist cases. You also need to carefully document all expenses associated with the accident, including medical bills, repairs, and lost wages. When making a claim against your insurance, you will be required to prove the amount you are demanding is a fair figure to cover your expenses.
If you have been involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, our team of stellar Denver auto accident lawyers is prepared to help you make a claim against your insurance for damages. We can assist you in determining your coverages, preparing your claim, and documenting your expenses. Contact Gerash Steiner & Blanton, P.C. today to schedule a free case evaluation.