What Are My Rights After an Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Accident?
When it comes to car accident lawsuits, injured victims have the right to seek compensation for their damages – including their medical bills, financial losses, and pain and suffering – by bringing claims against the negligent at-fault party. While some accidents may be caused by the negligence of a corporate entity, such as a product manufacturer that made defective auto parts or a commercial trucking company that failed to abide by safety regulations, many are caused by the negligence of an individual motorist.
In these cases, accident victims seeking compensation for their losses do so by filing personal injury claims and lawsuits, which are typically handled by the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Insurance carriers handle personal injury claims on behalf of their policy holders because they are ultimately liable for paying any damages caused by customers.
While this arrangement can lead to disputes from insurance companies that care more about profits than people when trying to pay victims less, it is generally a good system for victims, as insurance companies have the financial resources most individual motorists don’t have on their own. In fact, this is precisely why states require motorists to carry a minimum amount of auto insurance. Unfortunately, not everyone follows the law.
Exploring Your Options for Financial Compensation
When uninsured or underinsured motorists cause preventable accidents, including hit-and-run accidents, any victims they harm can face significant challenges in their fight for compensation. That’s because an uninsured motorist may have little to no available funds to compensate victims for their damages, or because underinsured motorists may not have sufficient coverage to provide the full scope of compensation victims need.
In order to find viable sources for recovering their damages, victims will need to explore all of their available options, which, depending on the circumstances, may include:
- UM / UIM Claims – The most viable way for victims to secure needed compensation following accidents caused by uninsured or underinsured motorists is to file a UM / UIM claim with their own insurance carrier, provided they have purchased this additional form of coverage as part of their auto insurance policy. UM / UIM coverage can be invaluably important in situations where victims suffer harm caused by either drivers without any insurance, or drivers who don’t have sufficient insurance to cover all of their damages. Like any other personal injury case, you can’t expect the insurance company to play fairly, even if they are your own insurance provider. Insurance carriers are corporations, and they want to protect their bottom line, especially if damages are significant. Because securing full and fair compensation is vital, working with an experienced attorney is still important when pursuing a UM / UIM claim. In some cases, you may also be covered by your UM / UIM coverage for injuries sustained in a pedestrian accident or bicycle accident.
- Commercial Liability – Victims without UM / UIM coverage can face even greater challenges when it comes to finding a viable source of compensation, and may have limited options. However, one pathway worth exploring is whether there are any commercial entities which may be liable for causing an accident or injury. This may be the case if an uninsured or underinsured driver was behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle, when accidents may have involved a truck or commercial vehicle (i.e. accidents involving multiple vehicles, fallen cargo, etc.), or when a corporate entity was negligent in any way for causing or contributing to an accident.
- Other Options – Although options may be limited, it is still worth evaluating whether coverage to make up for an uninsured or underinsured motorist is available through other means. Depending on the circumstances and type of accident, these options may range from product liability lawsuits over defective products or auto parts that may have contributed to a crash (even if it was on the other driver’s vehicle), roadway defects or unreasonable hazards, premises liability claims in the event that accidents happened on private property, and more.
Because uninsured and underinsured motorist accidents can put victims at risk of not recovering the compensation they need, it is strongly advised that you look into UM / UIM coverage with your insurance provider if you do not already have. This additional coverage can truly make the difference when it most matters, and unfortunately without it, there may be little opportunity for finding a viable way to recover your damages.
If you have or someone you love have been injured in an auto accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist and have questions about your rights and options, Leonard Law Group is here it help. Our Chicago personal injury lawyers fight for victims and families throughout Illinois, and have leveraged our experience and resources to recover millions of dollars in compensation. Contact us to request a free consultation.