Virginia Personal Injury Lawyers
What is Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
If you or a loved one have been injured in a car crash, you are probably confused as you try to understand how car insurance works when it is actually needed.
You’ll start getting calls from the other driver’s insurance company almost immediately after an accident occurs. They will want to take your statement even though you may still be in the hospital. Maybe you are on medications. You might be in a state of shock. There are many reason you may not be able to discuss the accident in a clear manner.
Not all drivers who cause collisions in Virginia are insured, however. Don’t get me wrong, it is illegal in Virginia to drive a car without at least the minimum amount of “liability” coverage required by the law. In Virginia, that means the other driver must have at least bodily injury insurance in the amount of $25,000.
But not everyone follows the law. And, if you have a car, your safest bet is to make sure that you protect yourself against irresponsible, uninsured drivers by obtaining a large amount of what is known as Uninsured Motorist Coverage, Underinsured Motorist Coverage, “UM,” or “UIM.”
What is uninsured motorist coverage? UIM coverage acts like an insurance policy for the uninsured driver, but to pay you. So, if you are hit by a driver who is uninsured or underinsured, you have the right to tap into your UM or UIM insurance benefits to receive compensation for your injuries. That’s right, instead of seeking compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company, you get paid by your own insurance company.
Here’s how it works: say the driver who caused the injury does not have insurance or enough insurance. You will then notify your insurance company that you will need to pursue a claim for UM or UIM benefits. When that happens, your insurance company will step in the shoes of the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Your insurance company may then try to discount or defeat your claim in the exact same way that the defendant driver’s insurance company would.
It’s strange, but you will have to fight your own insurance company just like it is the other driver’s insurance company. By law, your insurance company will not have a duty to work in good faith to help you resolve your claim. They will be legally entitled to fight you for every penny you are seeking. But at least you have the possibility of obtaining some money from another party for your injuries.
UM or UIM coverage doesn’t just work when the other driver is uninsured. It also works when the driver who caused the crash has insurance but just not enough insurance to cover the full amount of your injuries. When that happens, you have the right to get some money from the other driver’s insurance company with the rest of the money coming from your own insurance company. Getting paid by both insurance companies is very tricky. If you don’t follow the law exactly you will lose the right to get all of the available insurance coverage.
If you have been injured in a vehicle collision and the other driver doesn’t have car insurance or enough liability insurance to cover your injuries, you may have the right to pursue UM or UIM benefits. Obtaining that coverage has some pitfalls. That so, it is important that you work closely with an experienced Virginia personal injury attorney.
For more information about UIM benefits or other matters involving a personal injury claim, or to speak with an experienced Virginia personal injury lawyer about your case, please call Robert E. Byrne, Jr. at (434) 817-3100 or by email at [email protected].
This article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice.