How Can a Car Accident Lawyer Help Me File an Uninsured Motorist/Underinsured Motorist Claim?

If you were in a car accident someone else caused, you may believe you can simply file a claim with their insurance company to get the compensation you need. However, what if the other driver did not have insurance or didn’t have enough to cover your injuries and property damage? What if you were in a hit and run accident and can’t locate the driver to determine what, if any, insurance they had?

In these situations, you will file a claim with your own insurance company and use uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist protection to cover your damages. Even though you are dealing with your own insurance, you still need an experienced car accident lawyer to help you with the process.

An attorney will understand insurance laws and the tactics insurance companies use to deny claims or reduce the amount they pay. A lawyer can explain your options, protect your rights, and help you get you all of the compensation you deserve.

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What Is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage provides financial protection after an accident with a driver who either doesn’t have insurance (uninsured) or doesn’t have sufficient insurance coverage to fully compensate for the damages (underinsured).

UM/UIM coverage also applies to hit-and-run scenarios where you can’t identify the driver who caused the accident, and situations where debris fell from a vehicle and caused injuries and damages, but the driver of that vehicle did not stop and accept responsibility for the incident.

Some key points to understand about UM/UIM coverage:

  • Uninsured motorist coverage. If an uninsured driver caused your accident, uninsured motorist coverage comes into play. This coverage pays for your medical expenses, lost income, and other damages resulting from the wreck. It essentially steps in as if the at-fault driver had liability insurance to cover your losses.
  • Underinsured motorist coverage. Underinsured motorist coverage will fill the gap when the at-fault driver lacked enough insurance to cover your damages. In such cases, your underinsured motorist coverage can make up the difference between the at-fault driver’s policy limit and the actual damages you sustained.
  • Coverage limits. UM/UIM coverage has specific policy limits that determine the maximum amount your insurance company will pay for a covered claim. These limits typically show two separate amounts, such as $25,000/$50,000. The first number represents the maximum per-person limit, while the second number represents the maximum per-accident limit. Each state has different limit requirements, so review your insurance policy with a car accident lawyer to understand your coverage limits.
  • Hit and run accidents. UM/UIM coverage comes into play in hit and run accidents where the at-fault driver flees the scene and you cannot identify them. If you have UM/UIM coverage, it can compensate you for your injuries and damages caused by an unknown responsible party.
  • Policy requirements. Some states make UM/UIM coverage mandatory while others make it optional. The specific requirements and coverage options vary by jurisdiction and insurance company. Review your policy with your lawyer to understand how your coverage affects your compensation claim.

UM/UIM coverage protects you against uninsured or underinsured drivers. It provides an additional layer of financial security and a source of compensation for your damages after an accident.

Some states require drivers to carry UM/UIM coverage, but Florida and Washington do not. However, they do require insurance companies to offer the protection for purchase if you open a new policy or change your current coverage.

Incidentally, Florida requires drivers to have $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Property Damage Liability (PDL) coverage on any vehicle registered with the state. These protections cover up to 80 percent of all necessary and reasonable medical expenses regardless of who caused the accident.

Why Should I Hire an Attorney to File My UM/UIM Claim?

Some key benefits a car accident attorney offers in filing your UM/UIM claim:

  • Helping you understand your insurance policy. Car accident lawyers understand insurance policies and can review your policy to determine if you have UM/UIM coverage. They can explain the coverage limits, exclusions, and any other relevant provisions that may affect your claim.
  • Gathering evidence. To support your UM/UIM claim, your lawyer will gather evidence related to the accident. This may include police reports, witness statements, accident scene photographs, medical records, and any other relevant documentation. They may also work with accident reconstruction experts or investigators to strengthen your case.
  • Dealing with the insurance company. Your lawyer will handle all communications with your insurance company for you. They will promptly notify the insurer of the accident and your intention to file a UM/UIM claim. This will inform the insurance company of the situation so it can begin its own investigation.
  • Providing necessary documentation. Insurance companies require specific documentation when filing a UM/UIM claim. Your attorney will gather and submit all the necessary paperwork, including medical bills, proof of damages, and any other documentation needed to support your claim. They will file complete, accurate documentation within the required deadlines.
  • Negotiating with the insurance company. The insurance company may undervalue or deny your UM/UIM claim. A car accident lawyer ensures that skilled negotiators will advocate for your best interests. They will negotiate with the insurance company to seek a fair settlement that adequately compensates you for your injuries, damages, and losses.
  • Representing you at trial. If negotiations with the insurance company do not succeed or the insurer acts in bad faith, your lawyer can file a lawsuit for you. They can represent you in court, present your case to a judge or jury, and fight for your rights to obtain the compensation you deserve.

A car accident lawyer will have the experience and knowledge to navigate UM/UIM insurance policies, handle legal procedures, and negotiate with insurance companies effectively, maximizing your chances of a successful claim outcome.

What if I Don’t Have UM/UIM Coverage?

Even if you didn’t purchase UM/UIM coverage, you may still have options. By law, insurance companies must offer this protection to policyholders. If they do not, or if they do not have written documentation that you denied this coverage, you may hold them responsible for providing you with coverage in an amount equal to your bodily injury coverage at no additional cost. Speak with an attorney regarding your case to learn of your rights and options.

Can I Sue the Uninsured Motorist?

Although you may take the at-fault driver to court and sue for compensation, you don’t always need to. The law does not require you to sue the uninsured motorist to sue an insurance company or file a UM/UIM claim. During the claims process, your own insurer will essentially stand in as the defendant in the case instead of the uninsured motorist or hit-and-run driver.

Your attorney may leave the at-fault driver’s name as the defendant (if known) to prevent the insurance company from moving your case to a federal court, for instance, but the insurer may remain the primary defendant throughout the process.

Will I Have to Go to Court?

Most car accident claims settle out of court. If the insurance company flat-out denies your claim and refuses to settle, or if they act in bad faith in not honoring your claim or violating the settlement agreement, then you may have to take them to court.

You may also go to court if your attorney feels the egregious misconduct or negligence of the at-fault driver warrants a jury trial to pursue punitive damages. You can discuss your case with your lawyer and follow their recommendations.

Speak With an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Today

Tatiana Boohoff, Lawyer for Motorcycle Accident cases near Tampa area.
Tatiana Boohoff, Car Accident Attorney in Tampa.

Even if an uninsured or underinsured driver caused the accident, you still deserve compensation for the injuries and losses you suffered in the crash. You may rely on your own insurance coverage, but you will need an attorney to file your claim properly and deal with the insurance company for you so you don’t have to worry about it.

Having an attorney file your UM/UIM claim for you can relieve you of the additional burden, and a lawyer can assert your rights, negotiate with the insurer to get a higher settlement, or represent you in court if your case goes to trial. An astute personal injury attorney in Tampa will have your best interests at heart and will work diligently to help you get all you deserve.

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Boohoff Law, P.A. — Auto Accident Lawyers – Tampa Office

829 W Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Tampa, FL 33603

Phone: 813-725-5606

June 3, 2023
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