What Happens if the Other Driver Doesn’t Have Enough Insurance?
Illinois law requires all motorists to have a minimum amount of car insurance. The minimum insurance required of drivers in Illinois is $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident. This means that an at-fault driver’s insurance company would pay, at the most, $20,000 per person or a total of $40,000 per accident, no matter how many people are involved.
If more than two people are injured in a car accident where the at-fault driver only has the minimum amount of coverage, things could get ugly, especially if the injuries are serious. One accident victim’s medical bills alone could total over $40,000. What happens if the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance to cover all accident victims’ damages?
This is where underinsured motorist coverage comes in. Underinsured motorist coverage is similar to uninsured motorist coverage in that it puts your own insurance company in the shoes of the negligent party when they do not have enough insurance to cover all damages.
If you have been in an accident where the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance to cover your injuries, call attorney Christopher Dixon today for a FREE consultation at 312-600-8054, or toll free at 855-40-CRASH. The Dixon Injury Firm has staff available 24/7 to take calls from injury victims.
Why Should I Make a Claim Against My Own Insurance?
In Illinois, if you select limits greater than the minimum $20,000/$40,000, your policy will automatically include Underinsured Motorist Coverage. Underinsured Motorists Bodily Injury Coverage compensates you or other persons insured under your automobile policy for damages, which you are legally entitled to collect for bodily injury or death resulting from an accident caused by an owner or operator of an underinsured vehicle.
Many clients ask why they should pursue their own insurance when they weren’t at fault for their car accident. The reason you should pursue your own insurance after an accident is because you pay a premium every month, and you are entitled to recover from your insurance company if the at-fault driver’s insurance cannot reimburse you fully. If you do not take advantage of the coverage you are paying for, the insurance company pockets that money.
Other clients ask why they can’t go after the at-fault driver’s wages or personal property to recover their damages. Most people will simply not have enough assets to cover injuries sustained during a car accident. Further, the at-fault driver could move or change jobs often enough that they could be hard to track down, or they may just file for bankruptcy, which would lump you in with other creditors.
How Do I Make an Underinsured Motorist Claim?
Many people falsely believe that simply because they have underinsured motorist benefits with their auto insurance company, all they have to do is ask for them when the time comes. Unfortunately, this is not the case. As an Illinois accident lawyer, Chris Dixon is witness to the tactics and tricks played by large insurance companies. These for-profit companies make money one way: bring in more in premiums than they pay out for claims. This presents a conflict of interest when victims seek full reimbursement for their harms and losses.
In order to make a claim for underinsured motorist benefits, it is extremely important you read your entire insurance contract to understand what must be done. Illinois law mandates Underinsured Motorist Coverage, meaning that insurance companies must provide it to you if you select coverage that is more than the minimum required. The law states:
215 ILCS 5/143a(1).
The public policy giving rise to this law is to ensure that people suffering damages at the hands of uninsured or underinsured motorists are compensated as though the offending, financially irresponsible motorist had been properly insured. A fairly sophisticated process has been established to resolve the vast majority of these types of claims. Both UM and UIM claims are usually resolved in binding arbitration. In order to establish the ground rules for the actual arbitration, the parties/companies to the claim normally reference their policy/contract language, the Illinois Insurance Code and the Uniform Arbitration Act
Although the language above seems relatively straightforward, the volume of Underinsured Motorist related cases decided by the appellate courts reflects otherwise.
When you purchase underinsured motorist coverage, you enter into a contract with your insurance company that provides certain obligations you must perform if you want coverage to apply. If you fail to follow the terms of the contract (the contract is simply your insurance policy), you may damage your ability to pursue an underinsured motorist claim, despite making all of your payments on time.
Do I Need an Illinois Underinsured Motorist Lawyer?
Most of us do not read our entire insurance policy prior to signing on the dotted line and making our payments. It is often the case that the first time we actually find out what our insurance policy says, it is after we have already had an accident. It is only then we discover our policy is a maze of disclaimers and reasons why coverage is not provided. It is extremely important that you have someone who is able to navigate this complex document and provide answers after a car accident.
Interpreting and abiding by the contract/policy is only the first step in the process. Once you have jumped through all the hoops to make sure you are able to pursue an underinsured motorist case, you will next have to fight your insurance company on the amount required to make up for all your losses. If your underinsured motorist coverage has liability limits of $100,000 for instance, this is the maximum of what you may receive. Generally, your underinsured motorist insurance company has a funny way of valuing your loss at a lower figure than you.
If your insurance company refuses to reimburse you for the full amount required to cover all your damages, hope is not lost. An injury lawyer with experience standing up to insurance companies will file an underinsured motorist lawsuit and allow a jury to decide the proper amount of reimbursement. Large insurance corporations do not have the final word.
Contact an Illinois Underinsured Motorist Lawyer
Before you sign anything or speak to any insurance company, contact an experienced underinsured motorist lawyer for information on how to protect your case. There is no charge to talk, and a simple conversation about your legal rights may be the difference in your ability to bring an underinsured motorist claim.
Christopher Dixon has helped injury victims recover over $34,000,000 in judgments, settlements, and verdicts. For his aggressive representation, the National Trial Lawyers Association has named him among the Top 100 Trial Lawyers and Top 40 Under 40. Mr. Dixon is also a Life-Time Member of the Million Dollar Advocates forum.
Call an Illinois underinsured motorist lawyer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 312-600-8054, or toll-free at 855-40-CRASH.