Car Accident with an Uninsured Motorist
The Insurance Research Council (IRC) estimates that 1 driver out of every 7 drivers in the United States is uninsured. If you are involved in a collision with an uninsured driver, your ability to recover your property and injury damages will largely depend on how well you have protected yourself through your own policy of insurance.
In California, the type of insurance coverage you will need to protect yourself should you become injured in a collision with an uninsured driver is known as UM/UIM coverage. That is, Uninsured Motorist/Under-Insured Motorist coverage. Your insurance company must offer you this coverage and if you choose not to buy it, you must sign a waiver. If you didn’t sign a waiver, it will automatically be included with your coverage by law.
If you have purchased UM coverage as part of your auto policy, you will need to contact your carrier and inform them of the collision, the fact that you were injured, and that the other driver did not have insurance. They will assign a claim representative to assist you with accessing your coverage. The claims representative will likely take steps to verify the uninsured status of the other at-fault driver, before processing your claim. Even though this is your own insurance company you’ll be dealing with, it is always a good idea to contact an experienced attorney before making the call to ensure your rights are protected.
Even if the other driver did have insurance coverage, you should check your policy to see if you have UIM coverage. This type of coverage will “fill in the gap” between the other driver’s coverage and the total amount of your damages, if there’s a difference. For example, let’s say your injury damages (medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering) from the collision total $100,000 and the other driver had $15,000 to cover bodily injuries. Let’s further assume you have $100,000 of UIM coverage in your own policy of insurance. You must first make a claim against the other driver’s insurance policy and collect the full $15,000. Then you must prove to your own claim representative that you collected the full amount of the other driver’s available insurance coverage. This is usually accomplished by faxing them a copy of the check along with a copy of the other driver’s insurance declaration page showing they were only insured up to $15,000 and there was no other coverage. You may then work with your own claims representative to collect the remaining $85,000 from your UIM coverage to fully compensate you for your damages. Again, it is always a good idea to make sure you at least consult with an experienced attorney to protect your rights. Although they may tell you that you are in good hands or, that just like a good neighbor, they’ll be there, it’s not always the case.
If you or a loved one you know has been injured a car accident with an uninsured driver let Kershaw, Cook, and Talley assist you. Call (916) 520-6639 for a free case evaluation.