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What happens if I am in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver?

In Arizona, every driver on the road is required to have liability auto insurance to cover damages for potential motor vehicle accidents. However, in some cases the at-fault driver has no auto insurance or not enough insurance to cover your medical expenses. In this case, most people will then have to turn to filing a claim with their own insurance. This is when Uninsured Motorist insurance (UM) and Underinsured Motorist insurance (UIM) can help you in a personal injury case.

Uninsured Motorist is an additional coverage that can be accessed when you are in a motor vehicle accident and the adverse driver has no liability insurance. Typically, if you are in an motor vehicle accident and you are not at-fault, you would be able to file a claim with the adverse driver’s insurance. However, because they have no coverage, there are no funds to be accessed. At this point, the uninsured motorist coverage on your policy will become accessible to pay for you personal injuries.

For example, if you had a UM coverage of $15k/$30k then $15,000 would be applied to your bodily injury expenses. Depending on how much your total medical bills come to be, this does not always mean the full $15,000 is paid out by your auto insurance company, but it is the maximum amount that can be allocated by the insurance company for the accident. If there are additional passengers in the car at the time of the accident, the same concept would apply and $30,000 will be the maximum amount covered for all injured parties.

Underinsured Motorist is also an additional coverage that can be accessed in the case when you are in a motor vehicle accident and the at-fault driver has auto insurance but does not have enough coverage to pay for all of the bodily injury expenses. Normally, if you are in a motor vehicle accident, the adverse driver’s auto insurance will pay for all of the personal injury expenses. However, in some cases where there are multiple passengers involved or your own medical expenses surpases their bodily injury insurance limits coverage, there are not enough funds available to pay for the injuries sustained.

For example, if you were in a motor vehicle accident and your medical expenses were a total of $25,000 but the adverse driver’s liability auto coverage was $15k/$30k, then $15,000 would be the maximum amount of money that would be allocated by the auto insurance company towards your medical expenses. If you have a UIM policy of $15k/$30k, then your auto insurance company would help to pay the remaining $10,000 of medical expenses.  

Because Arizona is a comparative fault state, the person who is at-fault for the accident is responsible for paying the damages received by the other drivers involved. If you were involved in a motor vehicle accident in Arizona, typically you will file a claim through the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company or file a claim through your own auto insurance company to receive compensation. Beware that your timing to file a claim is limited by various statute of limitations depending on your facts. Filing a lawsuit can be a long and costly battle for some and there is no guarantee that you will win your case. It should be kept in mind that those at-fault drivers who are uninsured sometimes do not have enough assets, so trying to collect your full compensation from the accident could be a losing battle.  

Although UM/UIM is an optional insurance coverage in Arizona, it is the only way to guarantee getting the compensation you deserve if you were to ever get in a car accident where the at-fault driver has no insurance coverage or not enough. If you or someone you know has been in a car accident involving an uninsured or underinsured driver and has suffered injuries, your best option is to speak with an experienced attorney. Call to do a consultation with attorney Jose Leon. He can discuss all your options on the personal injury case and get the compensation you deserve.

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