Sometimes negligent drivers will not have adequate insurance to cover the damages they cause, or regrettably, will lack any insurance at all.
The minimum amount of bodily injury insurance coverage in Michigan is $50,000. However, many drivers fail to pay their insurance premium, allowing coverage to lapse. This can leave a car crash victim in Michigan with nothing.
However, in these situations all is not lost. Instead, the person injured can file an uninsured motorist (UM) claim or an underinsured motorist (UIM) claim with an insurance company. But to be able to do this, an insurance policy must cover the injured person.
At the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C., we highly recommend you purchase both UM and UIM insurance coverage. In Michigan, they are not required, but due to the astounding number of motorists driving Michigan roadways without adequate insurance, they are a necessity.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured motorist coverage is insurance a person purchases from his or her own car insurance carrier. The coverage basically steps into the shoes of the uninsured at-fault person who caused the injuries to pay pain and suffering compensation. These claims come into play when the at-fault driver has no car insurance.
The typical uninsured motorist claim involves a hit-and-run situation, when the at-fault driver leaves the scene without being identified. In this situation, it is obviously impossible to file a claim against the at-fault person. To receive pain and suffering damages, a victim can file an uninsured motorist claim.
Which Insurance Company Pays the Uninsured Motorist Claim?
An uninsured motorist claim is usually made against the accident victim’s own insurance company. For example, if a person with State Farm is injured in an accident and the at-fault driver is not insured, then the driver can make a claim against State Farm for compensation if they UM coverage for that vehicle.
However, just because you don’t have auto insurance doesn’t mean you don’t have a UM case. Sometimes, the auto insurance carrier for the vehicle will cover all occupants for uninsured motorist benefits. This is the case even if passenger in the vehicle is not on the policy and has nothing to do with the vehicle.
Who is Eligible to Receive Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured motorist benefits are a creature of contract. This means the language of the insurance policy controls. Some car insurance companies only cover the named insured, policyholder or any resident relative for the purpose of UM benefits. Still other auto insurance companies will protect all occupants in the vehicle.
This is why it is important to contact a law firm that specializes and understands Michigan uninsured motorist benefit claims. The Michigan car accident lawyers at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm are experts in these cases. We can review the insurance policy with you and find out if you are edible for uninsured motorist benefits.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Underinsured motorist coverage is similar to uninsured motorist coverage, except in this situation the insurance carrier steps in the shoes of the at-fault driver by providing additional insurance coverage for the accident victim.
A person makes an underinsured motorist (UIM) claim when they are injured by an underinsured driver.
For example, if the at-fault person has only $50,000 in liability insurance, but you sustained damages that exceed this low $50,000 liability coverage, you may look to your own policy, through underinsured motorist coverage, to provide additional compensation for your injuries.
Underinsured coverage is purchased from your own auto insurance company and claims are made with this same carrier. However, like UM coverage the insurance policy controls and just because you don’t have UIM coverage doesn’t mean you may not be eligible for UIM benefits.
Here is an example of how underinsured motorist coverage works:
Person A is hurt in a car accident. Person B, the other driver, is at-fault. Unfortunately, Person B only has the state minimum $50,000 bodily injury coverage. Person A has $250,,000 in damages and also purchased an insurance policy that has $250,000 in underinsurance motorist coverage. Person A can collect the full $50,000 from Person B, and then collect the remaining $200,000 from his or her own insurance company.
The Insurance Policy Controls Uninderinsured Motorist Coverage
It is important to understand that both uninsured and underinsured motorist claims are contractual in nature. They are not governed by a specific statute or Michigan law. In other words, the language of the insurance policy generally sets forth who can receive UM or UIM benefits and how.
Usually auto insurance policies have onerous notice provisions and certain requirements to make a UM or UIM claim. Car insurance companies do this to make it difficult for uninformed injury victims to receive money even when they have a good claim.
Contact a Michigan Uninsured Motorist Lawyer Today
Because of these notice provisions, it is extremely important to contact an experienced auto accident lawyer immediately after a car, truck or motorcycle accident to find out your rights and the proper way to establish a claim.
Uninsured motorist cases are different than a standard negligence car accident claim. Call the experienced and knowledgable Michigan car crash accident lawyers at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm to understand your rights.