My fiancé received policy limits from the insured that hit him because of surgery scheduled for next week. I am primary and he is a secondary driver on my full coverage policy. Can we access my uninsured/underinsured motorist policy? If so is there an attorney willing to help us do so as we do not want to proceed with our current representation.
We would need further information to determine if you are able to have access to your underinsured motorist coverage. We would need to review your policy and evaluate your case. Additionally, it is very important that your fiancé not sign a full and complete release that would preclude any access to your own underinsured motorist policy. This is extremely important and I would suggest that your review this critical release with your current attorney prior to any signatures. If you are not comfortable with your current representation then I would suggest speaking to a qualified personal injury attorney that is well endorsed by lawyers and past clients on AVVO.
If your fiance' accepted the policy limits from the insured that hit him without obtaining a limited liability release and signed a full release, then he cannot make a claim for uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage. I would be happy to speak with you about the matter if you choose.
The fact that you have uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage is a great start. However, this does not necessarily mean the coverage will apply. Generally speaking, there are two different types of UM coverage: add-on and reduced. Depending on the type of UM coverage you have will determine whether or not the coverage will be applicable to this particular case. A comprehensive evaluation of your coverage and the other driver's coverage needs to be done, something I do on a regular basis.
The answer depends on what your fiance signed. Certain release language will bar such claims. Certain release language will allow such claims. If the claim is allowed, then a determination has to be made as to whether your policy covers his situation, and whether he has enough damages to make it worth pursuing. That would require a look at documents your current lawyer has. Note that his fee agreement may require him to pay two lawyers if he changes lawyers at this point.
To the extent that um is available & was not contractually waived and if a special kind of release called a "limited release" was executed, then most likely, yes.
I am available to assist & there are many fine attorneys on this list serve who could also help. Best wishes.
Sam Levine, Esq.
If the "limited release" that your fiance signed is in compliance with Georgia law, then he is still entitled to make a claim for UM benefits under any policy that covers him. Any auto policy he has and pays premiums for would be first in line, and he may also have coverage under other policies (for instance, policies providing UM coverage to any relative who lives with him). This is known as "stacking." You need to contact an attorney with experience handling auto accident insurance claims to make sure that he obtains all of the insurance benefits to which he is entitled.
First thing you should do is try to work out any difficulties you have with your current lawyer. Often times, your lawyer is working hard for you but there could be a misunderstanding and it is always best to try to work these things out prior to jumping ship. As to accessing your UM coverage it sounds as though you can give that you signed a limited release - meaning you can'y pursue the assets of the at-fault driver but can pursue any excess or UM coverage. Depending on the circumstances, it may be a situation where it is easy to get the policy limits but the difficult work of for your lawyer will be negotiating the liens imposed by any insurance companies, hospitals or doctors.
Policy limits from the tortfeasor should not be accepted unless the UIM carrier has agreed to the settlement. Your fiancée needs to discuss this issue with his attorney ASAP. If the case was settled without the permission of the UIM carrier, your fiancée has released the tortfeasor and deprived the UIM carrier of its ability to pursue the tortfeasor for any amount of money it may pay under the UIM policy. The UIM carrier will claim prejudice and probably deny coverage. If your fiancée's attorney has settled the case without protecting the UIM coverage, you should speak with another attorney about a possible legal malpractice claim against your current counsel.
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Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.
Since you received the at-fault policy limits, you can usually proceed against your uninsured coverage provided 1) your UM coverage exceeds the amount of the other's policy limit; 2) you have not signed a release that might prohibit you from proceeding against your own UM coverage; 3) your injuries warrant more money than the other's policy limits. Other requirements may also apply, including very specific time notifications, etc. You should have the release you signed and your entire situation reviewed by a PI atty. ASAP. Since most Avvo attys. offer a free consultation you would be foolish to not take advantage of the opportunity before you terminate your existing counsel or do anything else on your own.
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