Uninsured Motorists: Accidents with No Coverage
State law requires all drivers to have liability insurance coverage on their car, truck or motor vehicle. Many people cannot afford, or chose not, to buy insurance. They may buy insurance when it’s time to renew their vehicle registration, but the policy lapses when the buyer stops making monthly premium payments.
Uninsured motorists are those that have no insurance coverage. If you are injured by an uninsured motorist, you can file a claim against your own insurance company. Uninsured motorist coverage is mandatory in Oregon.
When you make a claim for uninsured motorist benefits, your insurance company “steps into the shoes” of the at-fault driver. That means that your insurance company will assert every possible defense available to the at-fault driver. For example, your insurance company may contend that you were partially at fault for the accident or that your injuries are not as serious as you or your doctor claim.
Uninsured motorist claims set up an adversarial relationship with your insurance company. You may find that your insurer is much more eager to accept the premiums you have been paying faithfully year after year than it is to fairly compensate you for your injuries.
Hit and Run Drivers are a type of uninsured motorist and present special considerations.
Underinsured Motorists: Accidents with Insufficient Coverage
The at-fault driver is considered underinsured if the driver has purchased an insurance policy that does not provide enough coverage to fully compensate you for your injuries. Underinsured motorist benefits are intended to cover the gap. If you have coverage, you may be able to collect from your own insurance company the amount of your losses that exceed the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage.
In some states and under some insurance policies, an injured person may “stack” various policies to increase total available coverage. Where permitted, stacking may apply when there is more than one auto insurance policy or coverage for more than one car on a single policy.
In Oregon, you MUST get permission from your own insurance company BEFORE settling your accident claim with the underinsured motorist’s insurance company. If you do not get permission first from your insurance company, you waive your right to pursue an underinsured motorist claim. Underinsured and uninsured motorist claims present complex insurance and legal issues. Consult an experienced personal injury lawyer before settling your claims with the at-fault driver’s insurance company or your insurance company.
Rob Kline is available to discuss your injuries and legal rights. Call today or request a confidential, free case evaluation.