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What happens when the guy who just ran into you has no insurance?
What happens if you are hit by a person with no liability coverage? You might think you are out of luck, but, if you have uninsured motorist coverage (usually referred to as UM coverage), you can still make a claim against your own coverage to pay for any damages caused by the uninsured motorist. UM coverage is insurance you buy to protect yourself from financially irresponsible drivers.
It is a great idea, and you should investigate UM coverage for yourself and your family. In fact, the Mississippi legislature thinks UM is very important – you must reject UM coverage in writing, or it is automatically unincluded at the minimum limits.
What if you are hit by a person with minimum liability limits (currently $25,000 per individual/$50,000 per accident in Mississippi) but your claim for damages is more than that? Luckily, the definition of uninsured motorist also includes an underinsured motorist. An uninsured motorist is a motorist whose liability limits are less than the applicable UM limits.
To trigger UM coverage, you must have more UM coverage than liability coverage of the at-fault driver. Of course, if the at fault driver has no liability coverage, if you have some UM coverage, you will have access to that coverage. If the at fault driver has minimum liability limits and you have an equal limit of UM coverage, UM will NOT be triggered because the at-fault drive is not considered underinsured. However, if the at fault driver has minimum limits and you have $100,000 in UM coverage, UM coverage will be triggered, up to $75,000.00. The UM carrier gets a credit for any liability coverage on the at-fault driver.
What if you are riding as a passenger in somebody else’s car and you are injured by an uninsured driver? If you have a UM policy in your name AND your friend has UM coverage on the vehicle in the accident, you can “stack” those coverages to trigger UM benefits. This is important because at first blush, you might not think there is any coverage.
Who and what is covered?
Any named insured is covered. Also, any relative who lives in your house is covered even if they are not a named insured. Also, you will be covered as a passenger in any vehicle that has UM coverage on it.
UM coverage will sometimes exclude certain accident types, such as accidents involving ATVs. Additionally, the accident must be caused by an uninsured motorist and arise from the use of a vehicle. So, pedestrians can make UM claims as can cyclists.
Why would you need a lawyer?
Because the UM carrier must pay for damages that uninsured motorist is legally required to pay, sometimes the UM carrier will disagree with its own insured and seek to pay little or no benefits. The UM carrier can also assert any defenses available to the uninsured motorist. For that reason, UM claims sometimes become adversarial. Carby and Carby can help you navigate this process.
As mentioned above, sometimes you may be entitled to UM coverage that you are not aware of. We know where to look to help dig up all the coverage available to help you recover.
The Bottom Line
If you have been injured in an accident, give us a call, even if you think there is no point because the other driver has little or no insurance. We can help you figure it out and make sure you get benefits you need. Contact our Natchez, MS office by calling (601) 445-5011.