Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Accidents
Massachusetts Lawyer Helping Car Crash Victims
Drivers pay auto insurance premiums so that if they’re involved in an accident, their insurance company will cover their property damage and personal injuries. Because insurance policies can offer different types of coverage, such as for uninsured/underinsured motorist accidents, it is important to understand the limits and benefits offered by your own policy. Uninsured and underinsured coverage applies to situations where another driver’s insurance may not cover all of your damages. This sounds straightforward, but the different provisions in uninsured and underinsured coverage policies can make it difficult to understand when the duty to provide you with insurance benefits is triggered. A Massachusetts car accident attorney at our firm is available to assist motorists who have been injured in automobile crashes.
Understanding Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
In uninsured/underinsured motorist accidents, injured parties may be concerned about whether or not they will be compensated for their losses. The answer depends on their own insurance coverage. Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage is mandatory under Massachusetts law. The state requires each driver to carry UM coverage, which is found in part three of the standard auto policy, of at least $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident. This policy will be triggered when the person that caused a car accident to happen does not have liability insurance to cover the resulting damages. One of the most common types of car accidents where UM coverage may be triggered is a hit-and-run collision. When the other driver leaves the scene of the accident, there may be no way to file a claim with his or her insurance. This allows the injured motorist to file a claim with his or her own insurer to receive coverage under the uninsured motorist policy.
In contrast, underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage is not mandatory. This type of insurance covers situations where the driver who caused the accident has an auto policy covering bodily injury, but the monetary damages that the injury victim suffered exceed the policy limits. A common situation where underinsured coverage may be triggered is where the injury victim’s medical expenses are far more than the bodily injury policy limit. In accidents involving catastrophic injuries or permanent disabilities, it is not uncommon for the past and future estimated medical expenses to far surpass the coverage limit.
Seeking to Prove Negligence on the Part of the Defendant
An insurance coverage dispute is separate from any civil claim you bring against an at-fault driver for your injuries. In the lawsuit, you must prove that the defendant failed to drive his or her vehicle with the appropriate level of reasonable care and skill. Examples of negligent driving include talking on the phone or texting, driving while intoxicated, and road rage. You must also show that this failure was the direct cause of the injuries that you sustained and that some other factor wasn’t the substantial cause of your injuries. If you are successful in proving these elements, you may be entitled to compensation for your past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and more. A knowledgeable car accident lawyer can help you assemble all necessary documentation in support of your claim for damages.
Evidence of any benefits that you received through insurance cannot be admitted at trial to offset the amount of damages that you were seeking from the defendant. This is referred to as the collateral source rule. This means that the jury will not be informed about whether or not you received auto insurance coverage benefits. However, if you are awarded compensation, any insurer who provided policy benefits can apply to the court to have the benefits that they provided to you offset through the judgment that you received. For this reason, it is important to retain legal counsel to ensure that you are receiving the full amount of compensation and coverage benefits that you are legally owed.
Consult with a Dedicated Massachusetts Lawyer
Taking the right steps to protect your rights after an uninsured/underinsured motorist accident can be daunting, particularly if you are coping with painful injuries. A skilled attorney at our firm is available to serve clients in areas around Boston, Cambridge, Lowell, Waltham, Quincy, Newton, Somerville, Dedham, Brookline, Norwood, and Peabody. We have seen firsthand just how important it is for an injury victim to receive diligent and zealous legal representation when dealing with insurance companies, which don’t always have their insureds’ best interests in mind. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call (800) 262-9200 or contact us online to get started.