Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Accidents
Las Vegas is a city known for its shopping, fine dining, entertainment and nightlife. For those of us that call this community home or frequent it for business or pleasure, long commutes in traffic can be an everyday occurrence. With increased travel comes increased opportunities for accidents. We often assume that the drivers around us carry insurance that will cover our medical expenses and other costs arising out of the accident, if they were to cause us injury. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Injured by an Uninsured Motorist?
Nevada is known for high stakes gambling but playing the odds against uninsured motorists on the roads is not what most people have in mind.
According to the Insurance Research Council, nearly one in eight drivers in the United States are uninsured. Nevada drivers are contributing to that statistic. Although all drivers in Nevada are required by law to carry insurance, the latest statistics find that 10.6 percent of motorists do not. Additionally, recent changes in Nevada law have raised the minimum required amount of insurance coverage all drivers should carry. Nevada drivers must have coverage including at least $25,000 for bodily injury per person, $50,000 for bodily injury per accident and $20,000 for property damage.
Though Nevada uses electronic methods to track uninsured drivers and imposes penalties upon those who violate the law, the problem persists.
How to Protect Yourself from Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists
When an uninsured motorist is at fault, the insured motorist or their insurance company often pays for the resulting costs. According to the Insurance Research Council, the average cost of an uninsured motorist claim is about $20,000, excluding any physical damage to the vehicle.
If you’re the insured motorist, you will very likely find yourself in the difficult financial position to cover that $20,000. Even if the other driver is at-fault and has insurance, you may find their policy does not have high enough coverage to cover all the damages. The presence of both uninsured and underinsured motorists on Nevada roads puts you and your family members at risk for high personal costs resulting from an accident.
To protect you from these unexpected costs, Nevada requires your insurance company to offer uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage equal to the limits for bodily injury. The Nevada Division of Insurance describes Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage as coverage to pay the medical costs for you or your passengers if injured in an accident in which the other driver is at fault and either does not have insurance (uninsured) or does not have enough insurance (underinsured) to pay all of your loss. In other words, uninsured motorist coverage can compensate you and/or your passengers for damages caused by another motorist without insurance.
Your insurer is required to offer UM/UIM coverage. If you accept the UM/UIM coverage, you are less likely to experience financial hardship in the event of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist. On the other hand, you can decline this coverage or opt to reduce the amounts of bodily injury liability and accept the risk in exchange for a lower premium. If your insurance company failed to offer you UM/UIM, they can be liable for costs incurred after an accident involving an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
I was injured by an uninsured/underinsured motorist. What should I do?
Although your insurance company has a fiduciary duty to you as their insured, they will likely take the path that balances meeting that responsibility with minimizing their loss. You may be surprised to learn your insurance company may not simply honor a claim you file against your own UM/UIM coverage. When you file that claim, your insurance company effectively will stand in the place as the insurance company for the uninsured/underinsured driver because they are now potentially responsible to cover the loss. They will only pay when it has been determined that the uninsured/underinsured was at-fault. To support and prevail in your claim, keep careful records of the following:
- Police report (or other report related to the accident);
- Photographs of the scene, as well as photographs of any injuries you sustained;
- Medical records and any health care bills; and
- Receipts for all accident related expenses and proof of any lost wages you sustained preventing you from working.
Be aware that if you reach an agreement with your insurance company regarding a claim against your UM/UIM coverage, the insurer might require you to sign a release form to waive all rights to pursue future payments after your settlement. Unfortunately, you may find that the settlement amount does not reflect the true value of your damages or adequately compensation you for future medical costs.
To avoid this situation and ensure that you receive the full compensation that you are entitled to under Nevada Law, it is crucial to seek the advice and counsel of an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorney, who can help you determine a true valuation of your claim and recover that amount, so you can be made whole again.
If you have been in an accident in Nevada with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, The Law Offices of Gina M. Corena, PLLC is available to help. We will use our years of experience helping countless injury victims like you recover the compensation they deserve after being injured by an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
Gina Corena is a skilled litigator that has practiced in Nevada her entire career. Ms. Corena prides herself in her devotion to representing injured clients and has acquired millions in settlements and litigation awards for her clients since founding The Law Offices of Gina M. Corena, PLLC. Named a Top 40 under 40 Attorney by the American Society of Legal Advocates and one of the “Ten Best Attorneys” in Nevada for her exceptional and outstanding client services, Gina Corena is a litigator that will fight for you.
For a consultation and review of your case, contact us online or by phone at (702) 680-1111.