Uninsured motorist claims arise when the at-fault motorist carries no coverage or cannot be identified. An example of when an uninsured motorist claim may arise is when the at-fault motorist has fled the scene (hit and run) and cannot be identified. Often, accidents involving pedestrians or cyclists result in uninsured motorist claims. The Illinois Traffic Crash Report will reveal the identity and policy number for any insurance that was carried at the time of the accident. Under some circumstances, additional insurance coverage information can be obtained by contacting IDOT.
Underinsured motorist claims arise when the at-fault motorist carries an insufficient amount of insurance coverage. An example of when an uninsured motorist claim may arise is when the injuries or “damages" from an accident are so serious that the amount of money that is demanded or sought is significantly greater than the amount of coverage: If the driver of Unit 1 (who carries $20,000 in BI liability coverage) hits and injures the driver of Unit 2, causing him to suffer medical costs of $60,000, an underinsured motorist claim should be filed. If the injured driver of Unit 2 has $100,000 in UM/UIM coverage, then an underinsured motorist claim may be filed to pursue the damages, including medical costs, pain and suffering, that cannot be recovered from the at-fault motorist.
An uninsured or underinsured motorist claim is filed against your own automobile insurance policy or the policy of a household or family member. Far beyond merely reporting the claim, there are written notices that must be filed and other technical steps that must be taken in order to bring an uninsured motorist claim; therefore, you should consult with a knowledgeable attorney right away.
An attorney can help you identify available insurance coverage and assist you in timely filing your claim against the insurance carrier in accordance with the rules for uninsured motorist claims and the specific terms of coverage under the policy. Remember, uninsured motorist claims create a conflict of interest between you and your insurance carrier. As in any adverse proceeding or litigation, you should consult with an attorney who has experience in litigating uninsured motorist claims. Your attorney should put forth a settlement or litigation strategy targeted to achieving the highest possible settlement.
An experienced and knowledgeable attorney can be particularly valuable in confronting and resolving hospital, physician, and subrogation “liens" which arise from paid and unpaid medical expenses alike. This process must be completed before the overall settlement is finalized. I am often able to provide my clients with valuable assistance in resolving or adjudicating expensive liens that were filed against their claim (and actually compete against the client’s net settlement), which result in substantial savings to the client in determining the net settlement amount they will receive. Remember, each dollar reduced or eliminated from a competing lien translates to a dollar earned by my client. For example, when a lien is reduced by $10,000, it results in a $10,000 additional net recovery to my client, and so on. Do not overlook this important fact when you consider whether to hire an attorney, or whom you hire. Get a lawyer who gets results.