Understanding Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Under Arizona law, the minimum amount of liability insurance required is:
- $15,000 because of bodily injury to, or the death of, one person in any one accident
- $30,000 because of bodily injury to, or the death of, two or more people in one accident
- $10,000 because of injury to or destruction of property
Auto insurers offer coverage that can protect you in the event that the driver who hits you is uninsured or underinsured. (“Underinsured” doesn’t just mean that the other driver has coverage less than the required state minimum. It also means that the other driver’s insurance, even if it meets the state minimum, isn’t enough to cover your property damage or pay for your injuries.)
Uninsured driver insurance protects you if you’re injured by a driver who doesn’t have any liability insurance.
Your underinsured driver policy can’t exceed the amount of your primary insurance policy. For example, if you carry $30,000 in coverage for your own negligence, you can only get $30,000 in coverage for damage and injuries caused by someone else’s negligence.
If the driver who hit you doesn’t have any insurance, or refuses to provide you with insurance information, notify your own insurance carrier right away. Some insurance carriers require you to bring uninsured motorist claims within 30 days, so you can forfeit your rights if you wait too long.
When you bring an uninsured driver claim, you’ll be dealing with your own insurance company and negotiating the amount of compensation you’ll receive. If you and your own insurance carrier can’t agree on an amount that you think is reasonable to compensate for your injuries and property damage, then you can’t sue your own insurance company the same way you could sue another driver’s carrier. Instead, your policy will require you to participate in binding arbitration with your insurance company.
An arbitrator will consider each side’s evidence (including medical evidence, accident reports, etc.) and then decide whether you’re entitled to compensation from your insurance carrier and in what amount. It’s very difficult to appeal the arbitrator’s decision—that’s why they call it “binding.”
If you do go to arbitration, you can be represented by a lawyer, just as you would be if a case went to trial.
If you’re hit by a driver who doesn’t have insurance and you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage, then another option is to sue the other driver. The problem is that people usually chose not to carry auto insurance because they feel they can’t afford it. Someone who can’t afford auto insurance is unlikely to have sufficient assets to satisfy a judgment. As the saying goes, “You can’t get blood from a stone.”
However, you may find yourself in a situation where the other driver does have significant assets (such as a home, land, or business) but let his or her auto insurance lapse because of cash-flow issues. Thus, you may be able to enforce a judgment by filing a lien against the other driver’s property. A court can order the property sold to satisfy the judgment.
If you’ve been injured in an accident in the Chandler area involving an uninsured driver, the Thompson Law Firm can help you seek compensation for your injuries. We can handle negotiations with your own insurance carrier if you have uninsured motorist coverage. If negotiations don’t result in a fair settlement offer, we can handle the arbitration against your own carrier. We can also represent you in court if you decide to sue an uninsured motorist.
We work on a contingency basis: we don’t get paid unless you get paid.
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When you’re ready to talk, please contact our office to arrange a free initial consultation.