What Do I Do After an Underinsured or Uninsured Driver Accident?
Lafayette Car Accident Attorneys Explain UM/UIM Coverage
In the state of Louisiana, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle without carrying liability insurance. Unfortunately, this does not stop some people from driving without coverage. In some cases, a driver may hold only the minimum liability insurance that state law requires, which may not be enough to fully cover the cost of your injuries and damages following a car wreck. However, in either case, you may be able to recover the compensation you need from your own insurance provider. In Louisiana, all auto insurance policies come with uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM coverage), unless you opt-out in writing. This kind of policy protects you if the at-fault driver in a car accident cannot adequately compensate you for your damages.
If you were hurt in an underinsured or uninsured driver accident, then our Lafayette car crash attorneys can help you. We can investigate the accident and the at-fault driver, and explain your legal options. In some cases, even if you are hit by an uninsured driver, you may be able to recover compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. However, most often uninsured drivers have few assets with which to pay a settlement or verdict. Usually, this means that your best option is filing an UM/UIM claim. Even though you file this kind of claim with your own provider, the insurance company is not on your side and may not make a fair offer. A car accident attorney from our law firm can help you defend your rights, even against your own insurer. Since 1996, we have provided quality representation for injury victims just like you.
How Does an Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Claim Work?
Your UM/UIM policy is a safety net that prevents you from having to pay medical bills and other expenses out-of-pocket after an uninsured driver accident. If the at-fault driver in a car crash has no insurance, then you can file a claim with your provider. Additionally, you can usually file a UM/UIM claim after a hit and run accident. In most respects, this process is similar to any other kind of car insurance claim. However, one notable difference is that a UM/UIM claim should not affect your deductible.
You can also use this kind of policy if your accident-related expenses exceed the limits of the at-fault driver’s coverage. In Louisiana, many drivers carry only the minimum amount of insurance required by law. However, this will usually not be enough to cover medical bills, lost wages, and other damages after a car crash. This is especially true in the case of a fatal car accident and wrongful death. If the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits are not sufficient to cover the cost of your injuries and damages, then an underinsured motorist claim can help make up the difference.
After a car accident, you may not be sure whether you have UM/UIM coverage. Under Louisiana law, uninsured motorist coverage comes bundled with standard automobile insurance up to the liability limit. However, you can opt out of this automatic coverage by signing a waiver form. Therefore, read your insurance policy carefully to find out if you are covered. Opting out of the included insurance means that, in the event of an accident with an uninsured driver, all of the costs will come out of your pocket.
Do I Need a Car Accident Lawyer for a UM/UIM Claim?
Even though you file an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim with your own insurance company, it can be difficult to get a fair settlement alone. Insurance companies are businesses and make decisions based on profits, not clients. Thus, your insurer may still try to minimize or deny your recovery. As in any other type of car insurance claim, an adjuster may try to mislead you or misconstrue your information. Your own provider may even advise you that you do not need an attorney.
However, having a car accident lawyer on your side can help ensure that your settlement is fair. An attorney can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and guarantee that all legal requirements are met. This is especially important if you need to file an underinsured motorist claim. Usually, you need your provider’s permission before accepting a settlement from the at-fault driver’s insurer. A lawyer can facilitate these negotiations and can aid in filing a lawsuit, if necessary.
Uninsured Driver Accident? Contact Our Lafayette Law Firm Today
If you have been in a car crash, then you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible and before you speak to an insurance adjuster, even a representative from your own provider. A car accident lawyer can advise you of your legal options in a free consultation. If the at-fault driver had no insurance or only minimal coverage, then an attorney can work to find all other avenues of compensation. This may include a UM/UIM claim with your insurer and/or a civil lawsuit against the driver.
The attorneys at Galloway Jefcoat, LLP have been assisting victims of car accidents in Louisiana for over 20 years. From our law office in Lafayette, we serve residents of Lake Charles, Sulphur, Calcasieu Parish and beyond. Call (337) 984-8020 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation today.