Did you know that one of the ways to get money in a personal injury case is through the injured victim’s own car insurance? That’s right. Your own auto insurance may be able to provide money in the event of a car accident—even if you did not cause the collision, but only if you have the right type of insurance.
Uninsured/Underinsured Bodily Injury Insurance
This insurance coverage is called Uninsured/Underinsured Bodily Injury (UM/UIM) coverage and it only comes into play if the at-fault driver did not have insurance or if the at-fault driver did not have enough insurance to cover the damages.
The UM/UIM Insurance Fine Print
It is important to note that in California, an injured person cannot “stack” policies. What does this mean? Let me give an example. Say Doug Defendant rear-ended Patty Plaintiff causing Patty significant injuries. Doug has the minimum amount of auto insurance allowed in California, $15,000.00 per person. Unfortunately Patty’s injuries are extremely severe and the value of her case vastly exceeds $15,000.00. What is Patty to do? She can look to her own UM/UIM insurance coverage, but only if her coverage exceeds $15,000.00. If Patty only has $15,000.00 in UM/UIM coverage, she will not be able to recover any money from her own auto insurance. The moral of the story therefore is, make sure you have as much UM/UIM insurance as you can afford. This coverage will protect you in the event the person who injures you does not have any or does not have enough insurance.
Will Using UM/UIM Insurance Cost You?
A quick note. I am often asked whether using the UM/UIM insurance coverage will raise your rates. The answer is simple – NO. This is coverage you have paid for. If your insurance rates increase as a result of claiming this coverage, you may be entitled to even further damages due to the insurance carriers’ “Bad Faith.”
Are You Covered?
Whether you’ve been injured or not, please check out your insurance policy to find out whether you have any or enough Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist overage. Just find your “Declarations Page” (the page with all of the numbers on it) and look for “Uninsured Bodily Injury” coverage. That should tell you how much coverage you have for a particular policy period.
If you have been injured an experienced personal injury attorney can help you assess whether you is enough coverage for your injury.