Hit by An Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist?
Reno Car Accident Lawyer Explains UM/UIM Insurance Coverage
By law, all drivers in Nevada must carry vehicle insurance so that, in the event of a car crash, the victims can receive compensation from the at-fault driver for medical bills and other damages. Nevertheless, despite state law, many people still drive without insurance or carry only the minimum amount of coverage. If you are hit by an uninsured driver or an underinsured motorist, then you may be responsible for paying some or all of your expenses out of pocket – even though you were not at fault. You may be able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, but often these drivers have few assets with which to pay, even if you obtain a successful verdict.
However, if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM insurance), you can collect compensation from your own provider for the expenses that the at-fault driver’s insurance will not cover. In Nevada, UM/UIM coverage is not mandatory, but insurance companies must always offer it. Therefore, if you did not sign a waiver opting out of this insurance, you likely have a UM/UIM policy. Reno car accident lawyer Eric A. Stovall is a former insurance agent, so he understands the complexities of Nevada car insurance. He can help you find all avenues of compensation, including all pertinent insurance policies. His experience also gives him insight into the strategies most insurance companies employ to attempt to deny coverage. Consequently, he can then help you stand up for your right to full and fair recovery.
What Does “Underinsured” Mean and How Could It Affect My Injury Claim?
An uninsured motorist has no insurance coverage at all and is therefore in violation of the law. If caught, an uninsured driver may face penalties such as fines and even suspension of his or her license. On the other hand, underinsured motorists are usually not breaking any laws. They do have insurance but typically only the bare minimum required to drive legally. In most cases, this minimum coverage is not sufficient to cover the full financial costs of a car accident.
Every state has its own insurance requirements for drivers. In Nevada specifically, all drivers must carry insurance that covers:
- At least $15,000 for bodily injury of one person in one accident
- $30,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more people in an accident
- $10,000 for damage or destruction of property
This amount may be enough to cover the costs associated with a minor fender bender, but it is rarely sufficient for more serious crashes. Even worse, the insurance company may attempt to limit the amount that they pay you by acting in “bad faith.” For example, one night in the hospital can easily cost a few thousand dollars even before calculating the cost of treatment and repairs to your car. If you miss work, then you may also consider the impact of your lost wages. If the at-fault driver is underinsured or the insurance company refuses to pay, then you may receive compensation for only a small portion of your losses. However, if you have UM/UIM coverage, then your own insurance provider may cover these excess costs.
How Does UM/UIM Coverage Work?
Although commonly grouped together, UM and UIM coverage are separate types of insurance and apply to different situations:
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage. If you are in an uninsured motorist accident, then the at-fault driver likely cannot pay any of your damages. Therefore, you may file a claim with your own insurance provider. This should cover the costs of your injuries and damages up to your policy limits. Unlike a regular claim, this should not raise your deductible if you were not at fault.
- Underinsured Motorist Coverage. If the driver responsible for your car crash has minimal insurance, you may be able to recover some compensation from that policy. However, if this does not cover the full cost of your damages, you can file an underinsured motorist claim with your provider. Depending on your specific policy, you may be able to recover up to your policy limits in addition to the compensation you received from the other driver. Additionally, a UIM claim should not raise your deductible.
Your UM/UIM coverage applies not only if you are in an underinsured or uninsured motorist accident while driving but also to any situation where a motorist causes you injury. For example, you may sustain injuries from a negligent driver while walking or cycling. If that driver’s policy is insufficient or nonexistent, then your own insurance should apply. The same is true if you are the victim of a car crash as a passenger in someone else’s car.
However, just because you file a UM/UIM claim with your own insurance provider does not mean that it will be easier to get a fair settlement. The insurance company will still scrutinize your claim and try to minimize your compensation. Therefore, it is essential to consult a Reno car accident lawyer before you speak to an insurance adjuster.
Need to File a UM/UIM Claim? Call a Reno Car Accident Lawyer for a Free Review
Whether the at-fault driver was underinsured or uninsured, an experienced lawyer can help pursue the monetary damages you deserve from all available sources. You may be able to recover additional forms of compensation beyond the at-fault driver’s policy, if one exists. In many cases, a claim with your own insurance provider can offset your expenses without increasing your deductible.
Reno car accident attorney Eric A. Stovall ran a private insurance agency before becoming a lawyer. Due to his years working in both the legal and insurance fields, he knows how to deal with large insurers. He can use his knowledge and experience to fight aggressively to secure the compensation you deserve.