In many car accidents, damages and injuries can be severe. However, the emergence and popularity of cut-rate auto insurance and minimal coverage policies can leave those who are hurt in a world of difficulty.
Under-insured motorists are a serious problem for everyone else on the road since their desire to save a few bucks puts everyone else in danger.
If you have been in an accident with an under-insured motorist, you will face a difficult process to recover fully from car insurance for the injuries that you have suffered.
However, it is possible to receive financial compensation and you are not completely out of luck when you have an under-insured motorist claim.
An Example of When Liability Insurance is not Enough
Consider the following scenario:
- The other driver runs a red light and t-bones your car, totaling it and causing you serious injuries that require emergency surgery and results in a long hospital stay.
- You have medical bills of over $50,000 and have suffered bodily injury and other trauma considerably beyond just your medical expenses.
- You are not able to work for six months and may not even be able to work effectively for some time to come.
In this case, you have a claim against the other driver that goes into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. You need to be paid the full value of your claim. If not, you will suffer serious financial hardship. They may just not have sufficient bodily injury coverage and collision coverage for all of the property damage and other injuries you have suffered.
The first thing that you can do as the accident victim is look to the driver’s other assets to satisfy the total amount of injuries. You can file a lawsuit in court against the driver personally, seeking to recover for the damage.
However, this is a difficult way to proceed because the driver may either not have a lot of assets in their name or they may be difficult to reach.
When the Other Driver in an Auto Accident Does Not Have Enough Insurance
Chances are that an under-insured motorist also does not have a lot of assets in their name. Chances are, if the driver has cut-rate insurance, they are trying to save money for a reason. You cannot seize a driver’s home in a lawsuit, and that may be their major asset.
You can also look to your own insurance company in a UIM claim when it comes to damages from an under-insured motorist. Insurance companies will offer coverage for accidents with under-insured motorists.
In today’s world of cheap auto insurances and permissive laws that allow for minimal coverage, this is something that every driver needs so that they can receive full financial compensation for their injuries.
Illinois Law for Minimum Coverage
For example, in Illinois, the minimum amount of insurance that drivers need to carry is quite low. Drivers need to carry $25,000 in insurance for injury to one person and $50,000 for death. They can carry as little as $20,000 for damage to a vehicle.
This is found in Chapter 625 of the Illinois Vehicle Code at 625 ILCS 5.
You know as well as we do that this does not cover even a fraction of the injuries and damages from a major car accident. Even a broken leg can result in tens of thousands of dollars in harm. In addition, you can have various economic and non-economic damages that can total even more, including your medical expenses.
If you miss time from work and have lost wages, it compounds your damages even more. It is not uncommon to have damages reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars for a car accident.
However, the law allows drivers to get away with carrying much less than that on their auto insurance policy. If you are the injured driver, it becomes your problem to figure out how you can recover financially for the harm that you have suffered.
In Illinois, insurance policies will automatically cover an accident with an uninsured motorist. However, uninsured and under-insured accidents are two different things. When you are in an accident with an uninsured motorist, you can file a claim with your own insurance and there are no limits on coverage.
You will need special coverage to be able to file a claim for an accident with an under-insured motorist.
The good news for injured Illinois drivers is that your policy most likely has this coverage. In Illinois law, ILCS 215 5-143/A2 states that an insurer must offer under-insured motorist coverage in an auto policy equal to at least the amount of the driver’s own liability coverage.
This UIM coverage would be automatically included in the driver’s motor vehicle policy and would only not be a part of the policy if the driver specifically rejects the coverage, which would be highly unlikely. Public policy is to protect drivers from a fault motorist when there is an accident beyond bodily injury liability limits.
What Happens When the Damages Exceed to Insured’s Bodily Injury Liability Limits?
Thus, when an Illinois driver is in an accident with an under-insured motorist, there are two insurance coverages that help cover the injuries of car accident victims. The problem occurs when the accident is severe enough that the damages exceed the total of the two policies together. Then, the injured person will need to try to recover other assets from the responsible driver.
It is possible to garnish wages to pay for accident damages, but if you have suffered major injuries, this will likely not be enough to cover your damages anytime soon.
When you have been in an accident with an under-insured motorist, your coverage can include other passengers who are in your car. For example, if a family member who resides with you was injured in your car in the accident, they can file a claim with your insurance too.
It is generally a good idea to cover relatively high liability coverage yourself so you can be covered in these situations. You should also have an umbrella policy that you can look to for payment if you have reached the limits of both the driver’s insurance coverage and your own in the accident.
What to Do When Comprehensive Coverage Is Exceeded
Here are the steps to filing a claim for an accident with an under-insured motorist
- Get the other driver’s insurance information
- File a police report on the date of the accident
- Contact your insurance company to report the accident. Your insurance and the other driver’s insurance company will determine fault for the accident.
- If the other driver is at fault, you would file a claim with their insurance company.
- The insurance company will inform you of the policy limits. After you learn that you were in an accident with an under-insured motor vehicle, you can then file a claim with your own insurance for the balance that is not covered by the other driver’s insurance.
- As the injured party, you can file a personal injury lawsuit as a plaintiff against the fault driver for damages in excess of the limits if you suspect that they have assets that can be used to satisfy the judgement.
Contact the attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers for legal advice about an uninsured motorist claim. Give us a phone call or fill out a contact form to learn more about legal action and how you can file suit.