What Happens If You Are Injured by an Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist?
Being involved in a car accident can be a traumatic experience – even if the accident isn’t serious. You may be recovering from injuries and unable to work during your recovery. Your car may be totaled and you may be left trying to determine who will pay for all of this damage. During this time, you expect that the “at fault” driver will pay for these expenses and for the damages they have caused. Realizing that the driver who caused the accident is not carrying insurance can be terrifying and stressful. Who will pay for your medical expenses? Who will fix your car? How will you put your life back together again?
What is UM / UIM?
In the state of Colorado, drivers are required to carry auto insurance. Unfortunately, not everyone does or they may carry far too little insurance to adequately cover accident expenses. An uninsured motorist (UM) is anyone who does not carry auto insurance. An underinsured motorist (UIM) is anyone who carries insufficient auto insurance.
Colorado requires all drivers to carry a minimum amount of car insurance. Liability insurance pays for property damage to another person’s property and for bodily injury to another person.
In Colorado, motorists are required to carry the following minimum amount of liability insurance:
- $25,000 per person for bodily injury
- $50,000 per accident for bodily injury
- $15,000 per accident for property damage
Collision and Comprehensive insurance are not required by law, but many people carry them as requirements for financing their own vehicles.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Colorado
Colorado law also requires motorists to carry a minimum amount of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. The minimum amounts are:
- $25,000 per person for UM/UIM
- $50,000 per accident for UM/UIM
Those coverages cannot exceed the amount of your primary liability insurance coverage. This is because UM/UIM insurance coverage is cheap compared to liability coverage. Insurers don’t want the average consumer purchasing only minimum liability insurance and then trying to purchase high amounts of UM/UIM coverage. So if your primary liability insurance policy covers you for $50,000 per accident, then you are not allowed to purchase $100,000 in UM/UIM insurance. You would be limited to purchasing a maximum of $50,000.
What Does Uninsured Motorist Insurance Cover?
A UM/UIM policy covers you against losses after a car accident. After all, you shouldn’t get stuck in financial hardships because of another person’s negligence and carelessness behind the wheel. A UM/UIM policy will protect you after an accident and help you recover losses, including:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of future earnings
- Future medical bills
Filing a Claim after a Car Accident with UM/UIM Driver
So what happens if you are involved in an accident with an UM or UIM? In most cases, you would need to make a claim with your own insurance company and use your own uninsured driver coverage. Immediately after your accident, contact your insurance company and report the accident. If you believe that the other driver was not insured, you want to let them know that you will most likely need to file an uninsured claim. Since some insurance policies have strict deadlines on filing UM/UIM claims, don’t delay.
After an accident, you may be struggling to recover and focused on medical appointments, managing your pain, and rehabilitation. You may not even be aware that the other driver doesn’t have enough insurance to completely cover all of your medical expenses because your expenses are still adding up. During this time, it is important to speak to an experienced and skilled Colorado car accident lawyer. Your lawyer will help you avoid missing any critical deadlines and protect your rights to compensation during this time.
Underinsured Motorist Claim & Statute of Limitations
In general a UM/UIM claim must be filed within three years from the date of the accident. However, if payment is made for the underlying injury within three years, then the injured accident victim may be granted two more years to file a separate UM/UIM claim. These extra years give injured accident victims more time to fully understand the scope of their injuries and the uncompensated losses. However, if you do not file an underinsured claim before the three years have expired, you may lose out on the chance to ever file a claim.
Contact Our Colorado Car Accident Attorneys
McDivitt Law Firm has the experience and the knowledge to tackle even the most complex car accident cases. Our Colorado car accident lawyers know how to help our clients obtain the benefits to which they are entitled – even if they are injured by an uninsured motorist. Call us toll free at (877) 846-4878 or click here for a free consultation form.
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