If you have been hurt in a collision caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you have a legal right to pursue fair compensation from your UM/UIM insurance carrier. The Stuart car accident lawyers at Donaldson & Weston can help you get started on your case.
Car Crash Lawyers for Victims in Stuart and Surrounding Communities
Many car accident victims are unpleasantly surprised to discover that uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance (UM/UIM) claims can be just as adversarial as a lawsuit filed directly against a negligent driver. After having paid premiums for years, a policyholder may understandably assume that he or she has a contractual right to a prompt and fair settlement. Unfortunately, the insurance company rarely sees it that way, since their bottom line remains their paramount concern. The compassionate Stuart car accident attorneys at Donaldson & Weston are here to assist you in fighting for fair compensation after a crash involving an uninsured or underinsured driver.
Common Issues in Claims Arising from Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Accidents
Under the provisions of UM and UIM policies, an insurance company has an obligation to pay compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering that the insured would be due from a negligent driver, were that driver fully insured. However, payment of a UM/UIM claim is not automatic, since the insured is required to prove not only that the other driver was at fault but also that the insured is entitled to the amount of damages claimed. In order to do this, the insured essentially must make out a case of negligence against the at-fault driver. This requires the insured to prove that the other driver owed him or her a legal duty, that this duty was breached, that the insured suffered damages, and that the other driver’s breach of duty was the proximate cause of the insured’s damages.
The UM/UIM carrier essentially “stands in the shoes” of the uninsured or underinsured driver and can assert various defenses, such as comparative fault or a failure to file a claim within the statute of limitations. Under Florida’s pure comparative fault doctrine, the insured’s compensation award may be reduced in proportion to his or her own fault for causing the accident. For example, if the insured is found to have been 25% responsible for the crash and would otherwise have been entitled to damages of $80,000 for lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering, he or she may be able to recover $60,000.
In situations in which the person seeking UM/UIM is not the actual insured, such as a child of the insured riding in another person’s vehicle, the carrier may assert that the claimant is not entitled to coverage. This is a matter that would need to be resolved under contract law, since an insurance policy is a contractual agreement between the insurance company and the insured. If the parties cannot reach a settlement, the case will proceed to trial. If the court enters a judgment in favor of the insured, the UM/UIM carrier must pay the amount that the court orders, extending up to the policy limits, unless the carrier files an appeal.