Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Claims
Lawyers Serving Auto Accident Victims in Memphis and Surrounding Areas
Just like the cost of everything else, the cost of auto insurance has risen over recent years. For this reason, many drivers elect to take their chances and drive uninsured. Though state legislatures have imposed tougher penalties for persons caught driving with no insurance, crashes involving uninsured drivers are still very common in Tennessee and other cities throughout the South. If you have been injured in a crash caused by an uninsured driver, you should contact the Memphis car accident attorneys at Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz to discuss your rights. If your policy contains uninsured motorist coverage, you may be able to file an uninsured motorist claim. Further, you may be covered under another person’s coverage.
Uninsured Motorist Laws
All states require drivers to carry liability auto insurance and set the minimum amount that must be carried. Tennessee drivers, for example, are required by law to carry liability insurance in case they cause an accident. The required minimum limits of liability insurance in Tennessee are as follows:
- $25,000 per person for bodily injury (includes injury or death claims)
- $50,000 per occurrence for bodily injury (regardless of the number of claims made)
- $15,000 per occurrence for property damage
Unfortunately, despite the law, we share the roads each day with countless drivers who have no liability insurance coverage to protect them in the event of an accident. What happens if you are involved in a collision with an at-fault driver who has no liability insurance coverage? What if your medical bills are higher than the at-fault driver’s limits? One option is to sue the defendant personally and seek recovery for your losses. The problem with this is that you may never actually recover any money, even if you are able to obtain a judgment against the defendant, as many defendants will not have the funds or assets to satisfy the judgment. If you were involved in a hit and run accident, the at-fault driver may never be located.
A better option may be to file an uninsured motorist claim with your own auto insurance carrier if you have such coverage on your policy. Carrying uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance is not required by law in all states, but many drivers elect to carry this additional coverage so that they are protected if they are involved in a collision with an uninsured or underinsured driver. In this event, the uninsured motorist carrier steps into the shoes of the at-fault driver and can pay for property damage and bodily injury claims just like the liability insurance company would do if the defendant were insured. Having said that, you should always consult with your own attorney before speaking with an insurance adjuster, even one for your carrier. Your own insurance company may end up taking a position adverse to yours.
Many accident victims are reluctant to file uninsured motorist claims as they fear their insurance premiums will increase. While each state’s laws are different, Tennessee law prohibits insurance carriers from increasing rates or canceling that person solely for filing an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim. This is codified by law at Tenn. Code Ann. § 56-7-1201(f).
Suppose you are rear-ended while traveling on the interstate, smashing the rear-end of your car. As a result of the impact, you suffer a broken arm, which requires you to go to the emergency room for treatment. A few days later you receive a copy of the police report and realize that the other driver received citations for following too closely and violating the financial responsibility law (i.e., for not being able to provide proof of liability insurance). What are you to do in this situation? Who will pay your medical bills and repair your vehicle? Luckily for you, you had previously purchased $100,000 in uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage. Thus, you may file a bodily injury claim with your own insurance company to get compensated for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost income while you are off work recovering from your injuries. In this scenario, you would be able to seek payment up to the limits of your policy.
Retain Our Full Service Personal Injury Law Firm for Your Car Accident Case
If you have suffered injuries in an accident caused by a driver with no insurance or not enough insurance, call Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz today to discuss an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim with one of our attorneys. We understand how uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage may apply to a given situation, and we regularly litigate and try cases when insurance companies refuse to make fair offers. Our firm has more than 30 years of experience representing accident victims throughout Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, and Mississippi, including in Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Caruthersville, Hayti, Oxford, Starkville, Tupelo, Meridian, Jackson, Little Rock, and Jonesboro. Call us today at 800-529-4004 or complete our online form to set up a free consultation with an auto lawyer in the Memphis area. NST is the way to go.