Automobile Accidents

Every few seconds an automobile accident occurs. After an accident you need to keep two things in mind. The first is to take actions that will prevent further injuries or damages from occurring. Anyone who is injured should get medical treatment as soon as possible as the possibility that the injuries may worsen if there is a delay in treatment. If possible, move your vehicle out of the roadway to avoid being struck by another vehicle. Secondly, you need to take actions that will preserve evidence of the accident and any resulting injuries or damages by taking photographs immediately of the accident scene if at all possible.

You should contact the police so that they can investigate the accident and file a report. Information in the police report may be valuable evidence later on. You need not rely solely on the police report for an investigation of the accident, though. You should record as much as possible about the accident on your own as well. Photographs of the accident scene should also include photographs of the damage to the vehicles or any structures with which the vehicles collided. Take many pictures from an assortment of different angles of the accident scene. You may also wish to take photographs of your injuries so that you will have visual proof of the extent of the bruising, etc.

Get the advice of an attorney as soon as possible after the accident. The attorney will at that time evaluate the evidence that you have gathered and determine what else may be needed. In addition to the initial evaluation of your claim the attorney may also ascertain if there will be a claim for Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage.

Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Coverage under the UM/UIM benefit of your own insurance policy entails evaluation by an attorney who has had years of experience handling these types of claims. Check your policy as Uninsured (UM) often covers the following:

  • Medical Bills and Wage Loss
  • Pain, Suffering and Disfigurement
  • Emotional Distress
  • Loss of Future Earning Capacity

There are some things that UM coverage may not cover, including:

  • Damage to Your Car (even though you may have collision coverage on your vehicle you are still responsible for the deductible)
  • Punitive Damages

UM coverage is not a “gift” from your insurance company, you pay for this premium and you should not worry that your premium will go up if you make an uninsured motorist claim as most states prohibit increases if the accident wasn’t your fault

Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM) is not the same as uninsured motorist coverage as UIM applies when the person who caused your accident has insurance but the limits are not high enough to fully compensate you for your losses.

Here is an example:

If the individual who ran into you had insurance that pays only $25,000 for each person injured in a single accident and your losses are worth $100,000. If you have underinsurance coverage, you will collect the other person’s $25,000 and then look to your UIM coverage for the remainder of your damages.

Should you decide to make either a UM or UIM claim you need to contact an attorney who has years of practical experience in pursuing these types of claims. Our attorneys have both the experience and expertise in handling and resolving these types of claims whether through the courts or through arbitration.

Many UM and UIM insurance cases involve “breach of contract” or “breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing” otherwise known as bad faith.

With this type of breach of contract suit, you are saying that the insurance company did not live up to their end of the bargain.

You acquired an expense that was covered by your insurance, and the insurance company has refused to pay. Everybody focuses on the words of the policy in these types of cases. The insurance company may have the advantage because they have drafted the policy. However, the “rules of construction” are on your side. Rules of construction require that ambiguous language be interpreted in your favor.

A Bad Faith Claim says that the insurance company acted unreasonably in refusing to settle the claim. All insurance policies require that the insurance company act in good faith when reviewing a claim. If the insurance company did not perform an adequate investigation and has attempted to settle your claim for less than what it is worth, you may have a viable claim and you can recover your benefits. If you can establish a bad faith claim, you can be awarded for “negligent infliction of emotional distress and fraud” and receive compensation or exemplary damages, which can exceed the actual amount owed under the contract.

You also need to be aware of the “statute of limitations”. A civil lawsuit for breach of contract or bad faith must be filed within a certain period of time after the insurance company’s final denial of your claim. Once the statute of limitations expires, it may be difficult or impossible to protect your rights.