« March 2011 | Main | May 2011 »

3 posts from April 2011

April 16, 2011

Uh Oh, I'm Hurt & Other Driver Doesn't Have Enough Insurance! Underinsured Motorist Claims in California

Question_answer
Q: The following excellent question was posted on www.avvo.com

Avvo logo

I was in a severe car accident as to which I was not at fault. However, I have a lawsuit going against the other driver, and may or may not be able to to be compensated by the other driver's (who was insured) insurance company. My question is, if I win my lawsuit against them, can I still file for an underinsured motorist claim with my insurance if the other driver has only the minimum limits of coverage required by law, but those limits are insufficient to compensate me fully for my injuries. Do the same terms apply if I lose my case?

Also, do I file an underinsured motorist claim before or after my case has been settled regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit?

A: Here's my answer to this most excellent question:

The rules are different in different states.  In California (quoting from the Rutter Group California Practice Guide: Personal Injury):

"Underinsured motorist cases—consent not required: An insured's failure to obtain the insurer's consent to a settlement with (or judgment against) an underinsured motorist does not result in loss of the insured's underinsured motorist coverage. Reason: The insured cannot recover from his or her carrier until after the bodily injury limits of the tortfeasor's policy have been exhausted by settlement or judgment (Insurance Code Section 11580.2(p)(3)). The carrier could thwart the insured's ability to collect on the uninsured motorist coverage simply by refusing to consent to a settlement. Moreover, the carrier does not have a statutory subrogation right against the underinsured tortfeasor and thus does not need the protection of a consent provision. "

You should always put your carrier on notice of an accident and, assuming you have uninsured motorist coverage, reserve your right to make an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim.

For practical reasons it is my practice to always contact my client's automobile insurance carrier, open the claim, get my client's policy limits in writing, advise that we are going to make an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Claim and ask them to tell me, in writing, exactly what they will need in order to comply with their particular requirements for a UIM Claim.

So, bottom line: You will NOT waive your UIM claim just by settling with the other party's carrier. However, subject to very few exceptions, you MUST, absolutely MUST, exhaust their policy limits (not a single penny less) in order for your UIM Coverage to kick in. Speak to a lawyer -- this is not something that anyone should handle on their own because the claims can be tricky.

I regularly handle Underinsured Motorist Claims for my clients. For various reasons, UIM Claims are a favorite of mine.

 

 

April 10, 2011

Texting While Driving Kills

Representing injured people and the families of those who have been fatally injured is my passion.  However, I'm even more passionate about preventing those injuries and deaths.  Please watch the short video below.  More importantly, please show it to young people who may not realize how texting, while driving, kills.  In more general terms, "distracted driving" kills.

 

April 09, 2011

Faces of Distracted Driving: Margay Schee, 13

 

On September 23, 2008, 13-year-old Margay Schee was riding home from school when a semi-truck slammed into the back of her school bus. She was killed when rescuers were unable to get her out of the burning wreckage. The truck driver was talking on his cell phone at the time of crash and said he never saw the bus.

Margay's mother, Elissa Schee, is a founding board member of FocusDriven, the first national nonprofit organization devoted specifically to raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.

For more information, please visit www.distraction.gov. To share your story, upload a video to YouTube and email the link to faces@distraction.gov

My Photo

Categories

My Other Accounts

Blog powered by TypePad
Member since 10/2006