January 30, 2021
Recoverable Damages in Michigan Underinsured Motorist Claims
The world of auto insurance is quite complex, seeing that not all auto insurance policies are created equally. Motorists may choose to carry minimum personal injury liability coverage, however, if a serious accident were to occur, such coverage would be inadequate. This is where Michigan underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage comes into effect. In fact, UIM coverage may be the only option to recover any losses. Carriers of underinsured motorist coverage will have their insurance company cover the expenses that the noninsured driver’s company cannot.
What Is Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Auto insurance policies provide different coverage for various aspects – including underinsured motorist coverage. This policy comes into play when the at-fault party’s insurance cannot cover the costs of injury and damages entirely. Although Michigan law does not require such insurance, it is essential for families who want to protect themselves from the many under-insured motorists on the road. When covering the driver’s liability and protecting the victims, the minimum liability coverage of car insurance companies is extremely low; especially when the driver is responsible for the accident. Insufficient coverage also exposes the responsible parties to serious financial consequences.
Michigan’s no-fault insurance law was modified in July 2020. This modification set the default coverage minimums for one injured party at $250,000 and for two or more injured parties at $500,000. This electable coverage is available to motorists for as low as $50,000-$100,000.
Underinsured motorist coverage utilizes auto insurance from the injured party to cover what exceeds the insurance limits of the responsible party. Compensation for pain and suffering along with other expenses for lost wages and/or earning ability is covered by this policy. To ensure the steps are properly followed, it is best and strongly recommended to have an attorney handle any underinsured motorist claims, as there are many filing requirements.
These requirements include…
- Evidence that the other driver is underinsured and at-fault for the accident, their insurance company has maxed out its payout, and their policy won’t compensate for all of the damages.
- Compliance with notice in addition to other contractual requirements of the underinsured motor insurance policy of the injured party.
- Compliance with the injured party’s underinsured motorist policy filing deadlines. Failure to comply may invalidate UIM coverage.
- Review of other payment provisions and whether or not non-resident family members are covered.
When to File A UIM Claim
UIM claims should be filed as soon as possible after the need to file and pursue a claim has been determined. Contracts for underinsured motorists’ coverage often have strict deadlines for filing claims, allowing about a month to determine whether a claim is required. This means that the extent of accident-related damage must be determined by the individual as soon as possible in order to determine whether the insurance of the responsible party can cover all damages. If the responsible party carries state-mandated minimum coverage, this decision may be easy as such coverage is quickly maxed out.
Evidence of the responsible party’s fault is required for the claim. A thorough investigation is required to determine who is legally liable for an accident. It is likely that insurance companies will conduct their own investigation, generally with the intent of limiting their liability. Similarly, personal injury lawyers also strive to protect their clients. Such lawyers will access investigators and other experts who, regarding personal injury cases, specialize in complex technical details. A witness may also, if available, provide relevant information or testimonies to assist the case.
Generally, coverage for underinsured motorists cannot exceed the maximum liability of the policy owner. Although coverage is not costly, it could cause financial problems for insurance companies if the insured had a low amount of liability and a high amount of uninsured motorist coverage.
Will an Insurance Company Investigate A Claim?
An insurance company will conduct an investigation regarding the case, checking on medical care as well as any additional accident-related details. However, to better ensure a claim is properly filed and all requirements are met, obtaining legal representation is strongly urged. Personal injury lawyers not only have specialized skills in this field and understand what information is relevant and important towards the case – but they also strive to obtain the maximum amount of compensation their client deserves.
What Role Do Lawyers Play with Filing A Claim?
Personal injury cases usually involve a lot of paperwork, medical terminology, and legal processes – making these cases quite complex. Fortunately, attorneys specialized in this field are prepared to handle such processes and will ensure that no steps or essential documentation are missed. They also have the ability to communicate with the opposing side’s lawyer – this can be especially important when documents and information is shared during the fact-finding stage. Having assistance from a professional who is well-versed in handling insurance companies will also ensure a client isn’t pressured into settling for a lesser amount of compensation.
Whether a claim ends in a settlement or a jury verdict – working alongside a personal injury lawyer will guarantee the best possible end result. Cases that end in a settlement are commonly negotiated by a personal injury attorney. Once a settlement has been reached, the plaintiff shall be paid by the defendant or insurance company. It is important to note that by accepting a settlement, the plaintiff loses their right to sue the opposing party.
Trials become the next step when a settlement is not possible. In order to maximize the amount of rewarded compensation, a personal injury lawyer must strategize with the plaintiff. Compensation generally covers any lost wages, medical bills, pain & suffering, and other wages.
The last option that could be available for attorneys and their clients are alternative dispute resolution (ADR).
The two methods of ADR include…
- Mediation – A process involving a facilitator who aids in bringing both parties to an acceptable agreement.
- Arbitration – A process in which multiple members of a panel serve as judges to make a binding decision on a case, bypassing a majority decision on a trial.
What Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage is another optional element to auto insurance policies. This coverage protects a driver in the event of an accident involving a motorist who has no insurance coverage or in a hit-and-run accident. Similar to UIM, uninsured motorist coverage protects the insurance holder, the insured members of their household, and passengers.
Underinsured motorist coverage, along with car accident-related claims, can be very complex. Fortunately, an auto accident attorney has the capability to help claimants navigate through any challenges that should arise throughout a case. By hiring a lawyer, victims not only have a much higher chance of receiving as much compensation as possible – but a lawyer will help to relieve the claimant of as much stress as possible. If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident or are seeking more information regarding underinsured motorist coverage, contact our team at Elia & Ponto today!