About one out of six drivers in the United States is uninsured, and about 14 percent of injury accidents to insured drivers and their passengers are caused by uninsured motorists. About 13 percent of Illinois drivers are uninsured and a far greater number are underinsured. Every day in Illinois, drivers are also injured in motor vehicle accidents with hit-and-run drivers who are treated as uninsured drivers. If you have been injured in an accident involving a hit-and-run or uninsured/underinsured motorist, it is important to understand your legal rights. Before pursuing a claim, speak with an experienced Chicago uninsured motorist attorney.
Victims of Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Accidents
There are two primary victims of uninsured and underinsured motorist accidents:
- The driver of the insured vehicle who is injured or killed, or whose car is damaged, and
- The passenger(s) of the insured vehicle who are injured who are injured or killed.
It is against Illinois law – and the law of all states but New Hampshire – to operate a motor vehicle on state roads and highways without insurance, but a shocking number of people still do so. There is no law against being underinsured provided the state’s statutory minimums are met. Underinsured motorist coverage comes into play when the at-fault driver’s liability insurance is insufficient to cover the damages and medical expenses of all persons (driver and passengers) injured in the accident.
Uninsured Motorist Claims
Deciphering insurance policies is always tricky business, especially when it comes to uninsured and underinsured insurance coverages. When you purchase “full coverage” under your automobile insurance policy, in Illinois (and many other states) you also obtain “uninsured/underinsured” coverage. This is commonly called “UM” or “UIM” coverage. Illinois requires you to purchase UI Coverage with limits equal to your Bodily Injury Liability Coverage limits unless you select lower limits in writing. The minimum UI Coverage limits permitted by law are $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident. Other states may have different minimums.
In Illinois, if you buy UI Coverage greater than $20,000 limits per person and $40,000 per accident, your policy will automatically include Underinsured Motorists Coverage equal to your UI Coverage. UI Bodily Injury Coverage typically compensates you and your passengers for damages for bodily injury or death caused by the owner or operator of an uninsured or hit and run vehicle.
The process of submitting your personal injury or property claims involves several steps and considerations. Though technically an option, bringing suit against a known uninsured driver is usually a poor alternative. Most uninsured drivers are uninsured because they lack asset or funds to begin with. Otherwise, they would have the proper level of insurance coverage. This leaves victims with the option of pursuing their claims against their own insurance company.
If you have been injured by an uninsured or underinsured motorist or the driver fled the scene, you may believe that you will receive a fair settlement from your own insurer. Unfortunately, this is very seldom the case. Insurance companies will most often try to give you the lowest settlement they can get away with. For this reason, it is important to seek the counsel of an experienced Chicago uninsured motorist attorney that knows how to deal with insurers and will work to obtain full compensation for your injuries. At Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C., we have been going up against the big insurance companies for over 20 years. We know all their tricks and we understand what it takes to successfully negotiate with them. Contact HM&M today to schedule your free consultation.