On Oct 19, 2011 My car was T-boned by someone who ran a red light. Her insurance took full responsibility sent a check for my deductible of $50.00 however she only had minimum liability coverage in the state of De 15/30. Her adjuster just offered me her policy max
I've also received payment from my PIP no claims have been denied for lost wages shoulder surgery nor therapy. I'm still taking therapy and may need another surgery so a claim has been opened under my UN/UIN on my policy of 100/300k I need to know If I accept the 15K from the at fault driver adjuster will I forfeit any monies from my UN/UIN claim that has been opened under my policy
I am not licensed to practice in your state, as I'm only licensed in CA, but I can offer some general feedback. Definitely discuss this question with a DE attorney. Also, if you are not represented by an attorney for your automobile accident injuries, you should at least speak to a car accident/personal injury attorney to learn the full scope of your rights. Even when you are making a claim against your own insurance provider, you should consider retaining an attorney to maximize your recovery.
You pay premiums for underinsured motorist coverage to protect you in situations like the one you are in, when the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance coverage to fully compensate you for your injuries. Your underinsured coverage should provide money for damages that exceed the 15K available to you from the other driver's policy. What I don't know is whether your insurance provider is entitled to an offset from the money you already collected from the other driver's minimum policy. You will have to run this question by an attorney from your area.
All the best and I hope you heal up well.
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You should definitely talk to a DE attorney before you do this. Most personal injury attorneys will offer a free consultation. Here in PA if you were to accept the offer of policy limits without obtaining something called "consent to settle" you could jeopardize your UM/UIM claim. In PA, there is an offset or credit taken by your PIP carrier against any money received from the third party defendant who caused your injuries. From there, it would have to be established that your damages were in excess of the 15k. Since you have had surgery, are still treating and may need another surgery, caution is the watchword. My advice is to retain counsel to handle the UM/UIM claim.
I will evaluate your case for free. Joyce J. Sweinberg, Esquire 215-752-3732 www.jjsassoc.net Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice. It is merely intended to provide general information to aid the poster in finding answers to the problem posed. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. In most cases, it is best to contact an attorney directly to find answers to your problems.
I would agree with the other attorneys on this post that you should address your concerns with a local DE attorney. I'm not admitted there (only in CA), but at least under CA law, the way it typically works is that you are required to take the 3rd party's insurance before you can pursue the claim against your own carrier. First of all, if you look at the coverage itself, it's called "uninsured" and "underinsured" coverage. So, under the fact of your case, you have $100K UM/UIM coverage, while the negligent 3rd part only has $15K liability coverage. Assuming that the 3rd party's coverage is too little to compensate you for your damages (which it appears it is), that 3rd party would be "underinsured." Now, in CA, to pursue your UIM coverage, then, you have to show that you've taken the 3rd party's policy limits, before the UIM coverage even starts. The reason is that UIM coverage is a "fill in the gaps" type of coverage that, with a $100K UIM policy limit, allows you to collect a total a total of $100K, MINUS the contribution from the 3rd party. Thus, you could collect up to $85K from your carrier, after accepting the $15K from the other person's carrier. (It follows that if the 3rd party had, say, a $30k per person limit, the most you'd get from your carrier is $60K, etc.)
Clearly, as my colleague from PA has noted, there is a different process in PA, and likely a different mechanism for that in DE, so it is important to discuss this with local counsel to make sure you do not jeopardize coverage that you've paid for.
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In California at least, you are required to exhaust the at-fault party's insurance before you can make a claim on your own UM/UIM. Your UM/UIM carrier will get a credit for the amount of your recovery from the at-fault driver.
It appears that you are attempting to deal with this matter on your own. I would advise against doing so. There are technical requirements to accepting a tender of the tortfeasor's policy limits so as not to affect your ability to get underinsured motorist benefits from your own carrier later. There also may be some complicating issues concerning payments you have received from PIP or from perhaps other health care carriers. I suggest that you arrange a free consultation with a personal injury attorney to discuss your situation. It appears that you have a serious claim and your own insurance carrier will do everything it can to minimize your recovery. They are neither your friend nor your good neighbor. The sole goal of any insurance carrier is to pay nothing or as little as possible on any claim.
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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.
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