Uninsured and Underinsured Motor Accidents

Hardly a day goes by where a Mainer is not seriously harmed in a motor vehicle accident, leaving the injured and his or her loved ones saddled with unexpected medical bills, lost income, and other economic losses. Many drivers believe they are adequately protected under their current vehicle insurance policy, but discover after they’ve had a serious accident that they had limited coverage.

Portland, Maine Car Accident Attorneys

The personal injury lawyers of Hardy, Wolf & Downing are committed to helping car accident victims recover maximum damages for their physical, emotional, and financial losses. Our Portland, Maine, injury attorneys have effectively litigated many auto accident claims involving uninsured and underinsured drivers — obtaining favorable settlements and awards for our clients.

By law, Maine requires each driver to carry a minimum level of liability insurance. Since Maine is not a “no-fault” insurance state, this coverage protects the driver from legal liability in the event of an accident. The problem is a lot of injuries happen where liability insurance doesn’t apply or doesn’t pay enough to cover the damages and injuries incurred.

When this happens, another type of insurance kicks in called “uninsured motorist” coverage. This UM coverage is part of every liability policy sold in Maine, it’s required by law, just like liability insurance.

How Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage Works

For Mainers who don’t know the distinction between uninsured motorists and underinsured motorists, here is a short review. An uninsured motorist is an individual who has no motor vehicle liability insurance coverage at the time of an auto accident. An underinsured motorist has purchased some degree of liability insurance, but their coverage is not sufficient to fairly compensate for any injuries and losses sustained by the other party.

When you are harmed by a driver who doesn’t have insurance, your uninsured motorist (UM) coverage is there to protect you. It could be a stolen vehicle, a car taken without permission, or a car where the driver failed to pay his premiums and the insurance company canceled. If your injuries were caused by a hit-and-run driver who cannot be found, he or she is by law also considered an “uninsured motorist.”  If you are hurt by a driver with some insurance but not enough to pay for all your injuries and property damage, this person is labeled an “underinsured motorist.”

What does this mean for Mainers in the Lewiston, Portland, and Bangor areas? Your insurance carrier should pay when the uninsured motorist doesn’t have enough insurance to do so. Maine has one of the highest UM minimums of any state throughout the country: $50,000 per person, or $100,000 per accident. Motorists must also carry a minimum of $25,000 to cover related property damage and $1,000 minimum for medical bills.

Uninsured motorist coverage is particularly advantageous in the following scenarios:

  • Multiple vehicle crashes
  • Hit-and-run accidents
  • Crashes that result in extensive property damage
  • Accidents that necessitate ongoing medical care
  • Auto accidents involving out-of-state motorists

Remember that uninsured motorist coverage in Maine is not a present from your insurance company. You already paid a premium for it, so don’t think you’re taking “advantage” of your insurance company because you have to pursue a UM claim. Over 16% of drivers are uninsured; therefore, these types of claims are not news to your insurance company. You also don’t have to worry that your premium will go up if you make a claim, as most states prohibit premium increases if the accident wasn’t your fault.

Protect Your Legal Rights Following an Accident

If you or a loved one was involved in a collision with an uninsured driver, let the car accident lawyers at Hardy, Wolf & Downing secure the compensation you need and rightfully deserve.

In the wake of an auto accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you should not be responsible for:

  • All related hospital and medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Pain, suffering, and disfigurement
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Damage to your car (though you may also have collision coverage that does pay for property damage, less your deductible)

As an example, let’s say you were driving your son to soccer practice when another motorist who is uninsured runs a stop light and smashes into the side of your car. You suffer only a few bruises in the collision, but your son sustains a broken leg in addition to some minor internal injuries. The hospital bill for your son’s treatment is $45,000. If you have uninsured motorist coverage at the state’s minimum level, the claim will be paid in full. But the state minimum of $50,000 is often insufficient when more serious injuries occur – many of which can put families on the brink of complete financial ruin.

What we have found at Hardy, Wolf & Downing is that many insurance companies stall and refuse to pay out sufficient UM coverage to their policyholders when in fact they are under obligation to do so. Their policyholders get frustrated and simply give up trying to make their UM claim.

If you find yourself in this situation, let our attorneys do the work and get the money from your insurance carrier for you, or take legal action against the negligent driver by filing a personal injury lawsuit.

Speak with a Trusted Car Accident Lawyer in Maine

At Hardy, Wolf & Downing, our highly-credentialed lawyers are complemented by a team of medical consultants and veteran investigators. Over the last three decades, our firm has steadily built a reputation of integrity and professionalism among our clients and colleagues in southern and central Maine.  For more information about filing an uninsured motorist claim, we invite you to schedule a free consultation with a leading Maine car accident attorney today.

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