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Uninsured Motorist Claims

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Uninsured Motorist Claims

Brien Roche

Auto Insurance Coverage for Uninsured Motorist Claims

Virginia allows people to drive uninsured as long as they pay the uninsured motorist fee to the state.  As a result, there are a number of people who are either uninsured or under-insured. If the claim of the injured person is greater than the liability limits of the at fault driver then the injured person’s only recourse is to make a claim against their own under-insured motorist carrier.  Uninsured (UM) and underinsured (UIM) coverage are part of the same coverage. This kicks in to the extent that it exceeds the liability coverage of the at fault driver.

For instance, if the at fault driver has a $25,000 policy but the injured party has UM coverage of $300,000 then the total amount that could be paid out is $300,000. The $25,000 from the at fault driver and $275,000 from the UIM coverage.

Pedestrians

This form of coverage applies even if you are not in an insured auto. For instance if you are on foot and injured by an auto your UM coverage could apply. In liability coverage the saying is that coverage follows the vehicle. In other words to find out what coverage applies look at the vehicle. With UM coverage it follows the person. Hence the pedestrian may be covered.

Uninsured Motorist Claims Can Be Complex

UM coverage is something you should have to protect yourself from other drivers who may not have enough coverage. If you make a claim against your UM carrier then this should not affect your rates since the collision was not your fault.

Sometimes trying to calculate exactly how much UM coverage exists is a puzzle.  Within that puzzle there are two classes of insureds.  There are what are called “the first class insureds” and then “the second class insureds”.  The first class insureds are the named insured and relatives of that named insured while living in the same household, whether they be in a vehicle or otherwise.  As such these people may be insured even if they’re pedestrians.  The second class insured are those people who are using or occupying the vehicle with permission. They only have coverage because they are in the car.

Class Of Insured

In regards to the first class insureds, imagine that the insurance policy is actually glued to that person.  That coverage follows that person.  Unlike liability coverage that follows the vehicle, UM coverage follows the first class insured.  That first class insured is covered in any vehicle.  They can be riding in a bus or a dump truck.  They could be a pedestrian.

Stacking

Another important concept in regards to UM coverage is “stacking”.  Although coverage within a policy may not stack, coverage on different policies may stack.  Stacking means that the coverage amounts are literally stacked on top of one another to come up with a total coverage.

Uninsured Motorist Claims-Subrogation

UM claims can involve issues of subrogation.  This is a concept that allows an insurer that has paid out money on behalf of its insured to recover that money from the party at fault.  This issue must be addressed in a UM claim before any settlement is reached.  That is, if the UM carrier is going to recover any monies from that at-fault driver.

The insurer in pursuing a subrogation claim may seek to obtain a judgment against that at fault driver. They do this even though the at fault driver may not have any assets.

In Virginia such a judgment is valid for at least 20 years.  If that person acquires real estate, then before they can sell that real estate, they will need to satisfy the judgment.

See uninsured motorist coverage for a review of Virginia case law on this subject. Call, or contact us for a free consult.

Different Scenarios

There are a number of different scenarios that may arise that create difficult issues of uninsured motorist (UM) coverage:

UM Claim-Scenario One

Plaintiff is a passenger in a vehicle involved in a 3 car crash and is permanently injured.  All 3 drivers are at fault.  The vehicle that the plaintiff was in has $50,000 in coverage.  Vehicle 2 has $25,000 in coverage.  Vehicle 3 has $100,000 in coverage.  There are also 2 policies held by relatives living in the plaintiff’s household.  They each have $50,000 in coverage (household coverage).  The question is, what is the maximum amount of coverage available to the plaintiff?

First you need to calculate the total liability coverage:

Host vehicle:   $50,000.00

Vehicle #2:        25,000.00

Vehicle #3:      100,000.00

Total:              $175,000.00

Next calculate the total of UM coverage:

Host vehicle:      $50,000.00

Household Vehicle:         50,000.00

Household Vehicle:         50,000.00

Total:              $150,000.00

UIM Coverage

Next calculate the amount of underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. Keep in mind that a vehicle is underinsured to the extent that the liability coverage is less than the total uninsured motorist coverage.  To do this you must look at each vehicle separately.  A vehicle in which the plaintiff is a passenger cannot provide both liability coverage to the driver and UM coverage to a passenger.  As such there is no UIM benefit under the host vehicle policy.

As to Vehicle #2, this vehicle is underinsured by $125,000.00 because there is $150,000.00 in available UM coverage and only $25,000.00 in liability coverage.  The host vehicle does get a credit for the $25,000.00 in liability coverage.  Therefore the host vehicle will pay $25,000.00 in UIM benefits.  Vehicles #2 and #3 will pay their policy limits each of $50,000.00.

As to Vehicle #3, this vehicle is underinsured by $50,000.00.  Vehicles #2 and #3 have paid their full policy limits and therefore they are not further exposed.  The host vehicle has only paid $25,000.00 of its UM coverage.  If the host vehicle is entitled to a credit then the plaintiff will recover the $175,000.00 in liability coverage plus $125,000.00 in UIM benefits.

UM Claim-Scenario Two

The plaintiff is a passenger in a self-insured vehicle.  The self-insured vehicle is not at fault.  A self-insured vehicle is required to provide UM coverage.
Call, or contact us for a free consult. Also for more info on uninsured motorist claims see the Wikipedia pages. Also see the post on this site dealing with injury issues.

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Uninsured Motorist Claims

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Uninsured Motorist Claims

Brien Roche

Auto Insurance Coverage for Uninsured Motorist Claims

Virginia allows people to drive uninsured as long as they pay the uninsured motorist fee to the state.  As a result, there are a number of people who are either uninsured or under-insured. If the claim of the injured person is greater than the liability limits of the at fault driver then the injured person’s only recourse is to make a claim against their own under-insured motorist carrier.  Uninsured (UM) and underinsured (UIM) coverage are part of the same coverage. This kicks in to the extent that it exceeds the liability coverage of the at fault driver.

For instance, if the at fault driver has a $25,000 policy but the injured party has UM coverage of $300,000 then the total amount that could be paid out is $300,000. The $25,000 from the at fault driver and $275,000 from the UIM coverage.

Pedestrians

This form of coverage applies even if you are not in an insured auto. For instance if you are on foot and injured by an auto your UM coverage could apply. In liability coverage the saying is that coverage follows the vehicle. In other words to find out what coverage applies look at the vehicle. With UM coverage it follows the person. Hence the pedestrian may be covered.

Uninsured Motorist Claims Can Be Complex

UM coverage is something you should have to protect yourself from other drivers who may not have enough coverage. If you make a claim against your UM carrier then this should not affect your rates since the collision was not your fault.

Sometimes trying to calculate exactly how much UM coverage exists is a puzzle.  Within that puzzle there are two classes of insureds.  There are what are called “the first class insureds” and then “the second class insureds”.  The first class insureds are the named insured and relatives of that named insured while living in the same household, whether they be in a vehicle or otherwise.  As such these people may be insured even if they’re pedestrians.  The second class insured are those people who are using or occupying the vehicle with permission. They only have coverage because they are in the car.

Class Of Insured

In regards to the first class insureds, imagine that the insurance policy is actually glued to that person.  That coverage follows that person.  Unlike liability coverage that follows the vehicle, UM coverage follows the first class insured.  That first class insured is covered in any vehicle.  They can be riding in a bus or a dump truck.  They could be a pedestrian.

Stacking

Another important concept in regards to UM coverage is “stacking”.  Although coverage within a policy may not stack, coverage on different policies may stack.  Stacking means that the coverage amounts are literally stacked on top of one another to come up with a total coverage.

Uninsured Motorist Claims-Subrogation

UM claims can involve issues of subrogation.  This is a concept that allows an insurer that has paid out money on behalf of its insured to recover that money from the party at fault.  This issue must be addressed in a UM claim before any settlement is reached.  That is, if the UM carrier is going to recover any monies from that at-fault driver.

The insurer in pursuing a subrogation claim may seek to obtain a judgment against that at fault driver. They do this even though the at fault driver may not have any assets.

In Virginia such a judgment is valid for at least 20 years.  If that person acquires real estate, then before they can sell that real estate, they will need to satisfy the judgment.

See uninsured motorist coverage for a review of Virginia case law on this subject. Call, or contact us for a free consult.

Different Scenarios

There are a number of different scenarios that may arise that create difficult issues of uninsured motorist (UM) coverage:

UM Claim-Scenario One

Plaintiff is a passenger in a vehicle involved in a 3 car crash and is permanently injured.  All 3 drivers are at fault.  The vehicle that the plaintiff was in has $50,000 in coverage.  Vehicle 2 has $25,000 in coverage.  Vehicle 3 has $100,000 in coverage.  There are also 2 policies held by relatives living in the plaintiff’s household.  They each have $50,000 in coverage (household coverage).  The question is, what is the maximum amount of coverage available to the plaintiff?

First you need to calculate the total liability coverage:

Host vehicle:   $50,000.00

Vehicle #2:        25,000.00

Vehicle #3:      100,000.00

Total:              $175,000.00

Next calculate the total of UM coverage:

Host vehicle:      $50,000.00

Household Vehicle:         50,000.00

Household Vehicle:         50,000.00

Total:              $150,000.00

UIM Coverage

Next calculate the amount of underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. Keep in mind that a vehicle is underinsured to the extent that the liability coverage is less than the total uninsured motorist coverage.  To do this you must look at each vehicle separately.  A vehicle in which the plaintiff is a passenger cannot provide both liability coverage to the driver and UM coverage to a passenger.  As such there is no UIM benefit under the host vehicle policy.

As to Vehicle #2, this vehicle is underinsured by $125,000.00 because there is $150,000.00 in available UM coverage and only $25,000.00 in liability coverage.  The host vehicle does get a credit for the $25,000.00 in liability coverage.  Therefore the host vehicle will pay $25,000.00 in UIM benefits.  Vehicles #2 and #3 will pay their policy limits each of $50,000.00.

As to Vehicle #3, this vehicle is underinsured by $50,000.00.  Vehicles #2 and #3 have paid their full policy limits and therefore they are not further exposed.  The host vehicle has only paid $25,000.00 of its UM coverage.  If the host vehicle is entitled to a credit then the plaintiff will recover the $175,000.00 in liability coverage plus $125,000.00 in UIM benefits.

UM Claim-Scenario Two

The plaintiff is a passenger in a self-insured vehicle.  The self-insured vehicle is not at fault.  A self-insured vehicle is required to provide UM coverage.
Call, or contact us for a free consult. Also for more info on uninsured motorist claims see the Wikipedia pages. Also see the post on this site dealing with injury issues.

Contact Us For A Free Consultation

Contact Us For A Free Consultation