Since nearly four out of ten California drivers do not have liability insurance, and the remainder are generally underinsured, it is important to know how your own insurance coverages for UM (uninsured motorist) and UIM (underinsured motorist) will affect your bodily injury claim when you are injured in an automobile accident. Although your insurance policy will give details, there are basics to such coverages that apply to California drivers.
More specifically, when an uninsured driver causes an automobile accident which injuries you, your UM coverage will provide benefits to you in place of the insurance for the other driver. Because uninsured motorist coverage is relatively inexpensive, once you have basic insurance coverage, it is best to buy a significant amount of UM coverage from your insurance company. The minimum UM coverage available from an insurance carrier in California is $15,000 per person/per incident. The maximum coverage can easily exceed $250,000. Since the odds are significant that you may be injured at the hands of an uninsured driver, UM coverage is vital to a well-balanced automobile insurance policy.
If you are injured by a driver who is underinsured (meaning that the value of your bodily insurance claim exceeds their maximum liability coverage), you may then utilize the UIM coverage available under your own insurance policy to pursue a supplemental claim for compensation. For example, if you suffer a fracture as a result of an automobile accident which was the fault of an underinsured driver, and that driver has only a $15,000 per person/ per incident liability coverage on their vehicle, so long as your UIM coverage exceeds $15,000, the door opens for you to make a supplemental claim against your own insurance carrier after recovering the $15,000 from the other driver (the so-called “Third Party”). That is why it is important to have significant UIM coverage.
In the event that you make either a UM or UIM claim against your insurance company, do not make the mistake of thinking that your insurance company will take better care of you than the insurance company of another driver. Your insurance company will, generally, be as reluctant to pay you a penny more than necessary to get you to resolve your UM or UIM claim. That is why is it just as important to have attorney representation by an experienced personal injury attorney for a UM or UIM claim as it is for a so-called “Third Party” claim against the insurance company for the driver who caused the accident. Your insurance company has trained adjusters whose job it is to minimize payouts just like every other insurance company.
I have had great success pursuing both UM and UIM claims against my clients’ insurance carriers when the adjusters were reluctant, or just plain stubborn, about paying fair compensation to my clients for their significant bodily injuries. Since the dispute goes to binding arbitration when a UM or UIM claim cannot be resolved by negotiations, it has been my privilege to represent many clients at their binding arbitrations. In many cases, I have multiplied, many times over, the ultimate recovery for my clients by going through the binding arbitration process.
So, if you have been injured by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, resist the temptation to try and handle the matter yourself. Call me and let me provide a free consultation to discuss your many legal options and explain how I will help maximize your recovery. The insurance claims process can be brutal, and you need an experienced professional on your side. Call me to discuss your accident at your earliest opportunity.
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