Auto Accidents and Insurance
If you are a victim of an auto accident and you go to court, you are usually awarded damages that are paid for by the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If the other driver is uninsured or underinsured, however, you may need to pursue other means of recovery.
Your own insurance policy may have an uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist provision that will compensate you. Other types of insurance policies, available through your spouse or employer, may also provide benefits. How significant a benefit and whether it is available depends, of course, on the specifics of the policy itself. The accident attorneys at Bohrer Brady can help you through this process.
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Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists
When a driver refuses or is unable to carry proper motor vehicle insurance, that driver puts more than just him or herself at risk. If the driver injures another person, the insurance will be inadequate to cover the damages. Injured parties, however, may be covered by their own insurance policies; uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage protects accident victims in these cases.
If you have been involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, contact our car accident attorneys at Bohrer Brady in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to schedule a consultation with a personal injury attorney and create a plan of action.
Even if your state requires all drivers to carry auto insurance, the driver who injured you or your passenger may not have had insurance. Or you may have been hurt in a hit-and-run accident, making it impossible to identify the driver at all.
This is when uninsured motorist coverage will step in to protect your interests. Many states require auto insurance companies to offer uninsured motorist coverage. If your insurance company offers uninsured motorist coverage, and you chose to include it in your policy, then your insurance company will act as if it were the at-fault driver’s insurance company and compensate you.
When you file an uninsured motorist claim, your insurance company’s interests can be adverse to your interests. Consult with our Baton Rouge auto accident attorneys before filing a claim.
When the at-fault driver is underinsured, this means that the driver has purchased an auto insurance policy that does not provide enough coverage to compensate you for your damages.
If you have underinsured motorist coverage as part of your insurance policy, you may be able to collect the amount of your damages that exceeds the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage from your own insurance company.
The premium cost for underinsurance is not as costly as the primary coverage, and the amount of underinsurance protection should be at least the same amount that you have in your primary policy. For example, if you have a $100,000 policy protecting others from your negligence, you should at least have $100,000 in underinsurance coverage to protect yourself.
Collecting Insurance Benefits Under an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Policy
To recover benefits under an uninsured or underinsured motorist policy, the injured party typically will need to show that the other motorist was at fault. The injured party will also need to prove that his or her bodily injuries were significant.
To collect benefits under an underinsured motorist policy, the injured party must have received the entire amount of insurance coverage available from the at-fault driver’s insurance company before the injured party can make a claim against his or her own insurance company under the underinsurance coverage provision.
Insurance Claim Do’s and Don’ts
When you need to make an auto insurance claim following an auto accident, you should proceed with care. Your actions may have a significant influence on the amount of compensation you receive.
Contact Bohrer Brady in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to schedule a consultation with a lawyer who specializes in car accidents to learn more.
- DO consult an auto accident attorney for legal advice.
- DO review your insurance policies to find out what is covered and what is excluded.
- DO notify your insurance company right away after you are in a car accident, your car is stolen or damaged or another such covered event takes place.
- DO take pictures if you can: of your vehicle, the accident site and your injuries.
- DO take notes when you speak with your insurance company. Make a record of the names, job titles and phone numbers of the representatives with whom you communicate. If you can, get the names of their supervisors, too. Note what you discussed and what you or the representative promised to do.
- DO tell your insurance company the truth. Not only does this save everyone a lot of time and effort, but questions of legal liability can be complex. If you fail to be forthcoming with your insurance company, this could invalidate or reduce your coverage.
- DO investigate whether you have additional insurance coverage. Depending on the circumstances, supplemental coverage may come from another auto insurance policy, a homeowner’s policy or umbrella coverage.
- DO keep the receipts for money you’ve spent on car rental, medical bills and purchases made in connection with the motor vehicle accident.
- DO make sure you’re aware of the difference between the replacement value of your car and what you actually owe on the car. If the car is totaled, most car insurance will cover only the cash value of your car at the time of the accident. You may owe more than that, however, on the loan or lease of the car. Gap coverage makes up for this difference. Additional coverage is usually necessary for things like a special sound system in your car.
- DON’T accept the insurance company’s estimate of your losses and damages until you have a chance to fully explore the matter yourself. An auto accident attorney’s help can be valuable in determining whether the insurance company’s estimate is fair.
- DON’T give the insurance company a recorded or written statement until you have determined how you wish to proceed. It is important to be aware of the extent of your insurance coverage and your rights.
- DON’T sign a release or waiver until you have gotten reliable legal advice. You may feel pressure to sign from your insurance company, but it is your right to explore your options. Just make sure that you take appropriate action within the time limit stated in your insurance policy.
- DON’T accept a check from your insurance company – especially one that says “final payment” – unless you have obtained legal advice from an auto accident attorney and carefully weighed your options.
Stacking Insurance Coverage
In some states and under some insurance policies, an injured party may “stack” various policies to reach a satisfactory level of compensation. By stacking coverage from more than one auto insurance policy – or coverage for more than one car on a single policy – the injured party increases monetary recovery.
Stackable coverage is not allowed in every state; in some cases, the insured must choose to have stackable coverage upon purchasing the policy.