You suffered injuries in a car accident. As you exchanged information with the liable driver, you discovered that the driver did not have auto insurance.

Perhaps you suffered injuries in a hit and run and could not identify the driver that caused your accident.

You might even get into an accident with a driver who has insurance but does not have adequate coverage to take care of the full damage to your vehicle or the other damages you sustain in an accident.

Now, you need to use your uninsured motorist coverage to help cover the damages caused by the accident. Do you need a car accident lawyer to help you with your claim? In most cases, yes. A lawyer can offer a number of benefits as you file an uninsured motorist claim.

What Is UM/UIM Coverage?

As part of your auto insurance policy, you likely have UM, or uninsured motorist, coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage provides compensation when you get into an accident with a driver who does not carry auto insurance. It offers the same level of coverage and compensation that you could recover if you filed a claim through the other driver’s insurance policy.

Underinsured motorist coverage, on the other hand, provides compensation when a driver does carry some insurance but does not carry adequate insurance to meet your needs following an accident. Once the liable party’s insurance company has paid out its policy limits, your own insurance coverage may take over.

That can mean coverage for:

Property Damage

When considering their uninsured motorist coverage, most people think first about property damage coverage: a way to cover the cost of damages to the vehicle and make it easier to take care of repairs or replacement. In many cases, property damage can prove devastating in a car accident, especially if you face damage to a newer vehicle.

Underinsured motorist coverage can prove essential to ensuring that you can replace or repair your vehicle after a serious incident.

Medical Costs

After a car accident, you may have serious injuries that require substantial medical care. The cost of medical treatment can grow faster than you think. Depending on your insurance provider, you may have the right to carry MedPay coverage: coverage designed specifically to help pay your medical bills in the event of an accident, regardless of who caused the accident. If you do not carry MedPay coverage, your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage may also provide some compensation.

Income Losses

If you miss out on income because of your car accident, you may have the right to include compensation for those losses as part of your uninsured or underinsured motorist claim. Consider the time you missed at work after your accident, including any work you missed for follow-up appointments or procedures.

Pain and Suffering

In addition to your other losses, you may have the right to include compensation for pain and suffering as part of your uninsured motorist claim. A lawyer can help walk you through how to calculate and include those damages.

Uninsured Drivers: More Common Than You Think

Around 12.6 percent of drivers nationwide do not carry auto insurance. Some states have much higher rates of uninsured drivers, often due to high insurance costs. That means you have a 1 in 8 chance of ending up in an accident with a driver who does not have auto insurance.

Drivers choose not to carry insurance for a number of reasons. Often, drivers try to skip their auto insurance because they find it too expensive. Drivers may also fail to carry auto insurance because they do not realize the laws surrounding auto insurance or because they allow their policies to lapse and fail to restore coverage on time.

Even more drivers fail to carry adequate insurance to cover the full cost of damages. Depending on the state, drivers who carry minimum property damage insurance may have coverage that amounts to far less than the amount needed to cover the cost of repairs to a new vehicle, much less the extensive medical costs that can go along with recovery from an accident.

How a Lawyer Can Help With Your UM/UIM Claim

If you need to file a UM or UIM claim after an accident with a driver that does not carry insurance or does not carry adequate insurance, working with a lawyer can offer a number of advantages.

Even though you need to file a claim through your insurance company, you should not assume the claim will progress smoothly. Insurance companies often use various methods to decrease the compensation they have to pay, even when dealing with their own covered individuals. A lawyer can offer essential help as you navigate that process.

1. A Lawyer Can Assess the Compensation You Can ClaimMan holding laptop with Uninsured Motorist Coverage displayed on screen

When calculating damages, car accident victims often miss out on the full damages they have the right to claim. Some may not think about the full extent of their medical bills or how wage losses will calculate into their overall financial challenges following an accident.

Others may not know how to effectively include compensation for pain and suffering as part of their claims. Working with a lawyer gives you a better idea of exactly what damages you need to include.

Not only can a lawyer help you calculate your damages, but your lawyer can also take a close look at your insurance policy and make sure you know every type of coverage the insurance policy offers, including things like compensation for a rental vehicle or the losses associated with loss of the use of your vehicle.

When you know how much compensation you have the right to claim, you can also avoid accepting a settlement offer that does not fit your needs based on the losses you sustained and the policy’s limits.

Many insurance companies will try to open negotiations with a very low settlement offer. That offer may include only a fraction of the financial damages you sustained in the accident, especially if you have not yet had a chance to calculate your ongoing medical costs.

Since a lawyer has provided more information about the compensation you deserve, you can feel more confident holding out for the compensation you really deserve.

2. A Lawyer Can Collect Evidence to Prove Your Damages

When you have serious damages related to your car accident, the insurance company may ask you to prove the full extent of those damages.

Proving property damage to your vehicle usually goes relatively smoothly:

  • You will take your vehicle to a certified technician.
  • The shop will review the damages.
  • You and the insurance company will receive an estimate of what it will cost to repair the vehicle.

You can have the shop perform those repairs or take it to another location you choose.

Proving the damages you sustained in the accident, on the other hand, can prove much more difficult. You may have extensive medical bills and substantial financial losses due to your inability to work after your accident. Still, your insurance company may not accept that report without considerable evidence. As a result, you may need to show evidence of those damages.

Evidence may include:

  • Your medical records. Your lawyer can help review your medical records and use them to show the damages you sustained in the accident and what compensation you should expect. Your medical records can also show what types of treatment you needed and why, including specific recommendations or referrals from your care provider.
  • Your medical bills. Calculating medical bills after a serious accident can prove complicated, especially if multiple bills come in from the same procedure. For example, if you had surgery, you may get a bill from the facility, one from the care provider who performed your surgery, and one from your anesthesiologist. Your lawyer can help review those bills and ensure you do not miss anything as you put your claim together.
  • Statements from your medical care providers. Sometimes, you may need direct statements from your medical care providers to show the full extent of the damages you sustained in the accident and how they will impact you long-term. Your lawyer can also ask your care provider to clearly state those damages and your long-term expectations for recovery.
  • Statements from medical experts who provide deeper insight into your damages and long-term prognosis. In many cases, the insurance company may not take the word of your medical care provider alone, especially regarding your long-term limitations. A medical expert can testify to how your long-term recovery will look and what limitations you may face.

Once your lawyer has all that evidence, he can put it together as part of a comprehensive demand package that lays out your losses and your expectations for compensation.

3. A Lawyer Can Negotiate on Your Behalf

Dealing with the insurance company can prove incredibly stressful after an accident, even if you end up dealing with your own insurance company instead of another driver’s. The insurance company may try to throw challenges in your path or make it difficult to get the full compensation you deserve.

Conversely, a lawyer can negotiate on your behalf, reducing your stress levels and allowing you to focus on your recovery during this difficult time. While your lawyer will let you know about any offer the insurance company makes and allow you to make the final decision, your lawyer can also advise when to accept a settlement offer and when it may prove worthwhile to continue negotiating.

4. A Lawyer Can Help You Avoid Traps the Insurance Company May Throw in Your Way

Insurance companies often use several tactics to convince injured parties to accept less compensation than they deserve. It often starts by issuing a low settlement offer, which generally will not reflect the damages really sustained by the injured party. However, the insurance company may also use other tactics.

For example, small talk with the insurance adjuster, including any statement about your progressing recovery, how you feel, or your plans for the weekend, can work against you as you attempt to recover compensation for serious injuries sustained in an accident. Your insurance provider may also pressure you to accept an offer quickly, including implying that the company will take the offer off the table if you do not accept quickly.

A lawyer can help you navigate all those tactics, reducing the odds that you will miss out on much-deserved compensation for your accident.

5. A Lawyer Can Represent You if You Have to Go to Court

Most injury claims settle out of court, especially when you must file an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim. However, in some cases, the insurance company may deny coverage for your losses.

Working with an attorney can give you the representation you need to present your case in court as effectively as possible. Having a lawyer on your side from the beginning also means you will not have to catch an attorney up on the progression of your claim or why you need to go to court to get a fair award.

Do You Need a Lawyer to Handle Your Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Claim?

Jacque D. Hawk - car accidents attorney in Augusta, GA area
Jacque D. Hawk, Car Accident Lawyer in Augusta 

Yes. If you had an accident involving a driver that does not carry insurance or does not carry adequate insurance for your needs, a personal injury lawyer can recover the compensation you really deserve. Contact an attorney as soon after the accident as possible to learn more about your rights.