Officials estimate as many as one out of seven Minnesota drivers, or about 14 percent of the state’s vehicle owners, don’t have the legal minimum auto insurance required by law. So what happens when you get hit by one of these uninsured drivers?
Every one of us has protection against these uninsured drivers built into our policies. Minnesota requires that all automobile policies have uninsured motorist benefits. This means that your own policy will pay you the amount that the uninsured motorist should have for your car accident injuries and damages. Your insurance carrier then has the right to sue the uninsured driver to get the money back.
This leads to several questions:
Will my premiums go up if I make an uninsured motorist claim?
No. The only time that your premiums can be raised following an accident is if you were at fault for the accident. If you make a claim on your policy that is based upon the fault of another person, then your rates will not go up.
How do I know which policy should pay the uninsured motorist benefits?
The policy that covers the car you are in is the first policy that you turn to for uninsured motorist benefits. If you have purchased a higher limit of coverage on your own policy, then you may have the right to go to your own policy for the higher limit of coverage. You also may be entitled to coverage on a policy of any family member with whom you live. Making sure that you make the claim to the appropriate insurance company is important and may require the assistance of a lawyer.
Do I get uninsured motorist benefits if I am hit by a hit and run driver?
Yes. A hit and run driver or other unidentified driver is considered to be an uninsured motorist. If the accident was caused by such a driver then you may have the right to make an uninsured motorist claim. However, it is your responsibility to make a good faith effort to identify the persons involved in the crash. If you simply do not attempt to identify the at fault driver and later determine that you want to make a claim, you may not be entitled to do so.
Should I hire a lawyer if the claim is against my own insurance company?
Yes. Just because it is your own insurance company is no reason not to hire a lawyer. Although insurance adjusters are nice people, they want their company to make a profit. Also, there are complexities in the uninsured motorist law that you will need a lawyer’s help with. For instance, you need to be careful to pick the appropriate policy to make the claim against. Some policies may provide extra coverage, so picking the right policy could result in better compensation.
Some policies require that you sue the uninsured motorist directly before you make a claim against your own company. Other policies require the claim be settled through arbitration. Your health insurance company may also submit a subrogation claim, and you need to coordinate the benefits.
If you, or a loved one, have been injured in a car crash, it would be in your best interest to contact an experienced attorney to help you negotiate with the insurance company. Contact Terry, Slane & Ruohonen, at 612-TSR-TIME, our partners are skilled, aggressive litigators and will handle all of your paperwork and file your claim.