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Underinsured Motorist Claims

The underinsured motorist insurance attorneys at the Philadelphia personal injury law firm of The Levin Firm understand that being in an auto accident is stressful enough, but sometimes people find themselves involved in accidents with other drivers who do not carry enough insurance to fully cover their damages. Our personal injury underinsured motorist insurance lawyers know that many people don’t realize that you may recover compensation for the balance of your bills through your own insurance company—if your policy includes uninsured motorist insurance protection. Many insurance companies require you to file your claim within a matter of weeks, so you should consult an attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights.

Underinsured motorist cases start with proving that the other driver was at fault. Then, you must prove how much the accident cost you, and show that the other motorist’s insurance coverage cannot fully compensate you for your damages. At The Levin Firm, we will conduct a thorough investigation into all of these matters to ensure that you recover all the money to which you are entitled through your underinsured motorist claim.

Proving Fault

Your underinsured motorist policy will not come into play unless you can prove that another motorist was, in fact, at fault for your accident. In legal terms, “fault” is attributable to a party who acted negligently or wrongfully. Negligence means:

  • The party had a duty of care (for example, to drive in a safe manner)
  • The party breached that duty (for example, by violating a traffic law)
  • That act caused the accident that resulted in your injuries
  • Wrongful actions occur when someone intentionally acts in a manner that causes a crash or harms someone else.
  • Negligent or wrongful acts of other drivers can cause accidents that their inadequate insurance policies will not cover. Some examples include:
  • Texting and driving
  • Other distracted driving activities
  • Aggressive driving or road rage
  • Drinking and driving
  • Driving after taking drugs
  • Fatigued driving
  • Dangerous lane changes
  • Dangerous passing
  • Driving too fast for the speed limit or weather/road conditions
  • Following too closely
  • Violating any other traffic safety laws

Claiming someone is at fault is different than sufficiently proving they were at fault. Unless the other driver openly admits responsibility for the crash—which, for obvious reasons, is rare—you will need to show evidence of negligence to your insurance company.

Our law firm has the resources to investigate your accident and collect evidence to support your claims of fault. Evidence can come in many forms, including witness statements, video evidence (from surveillance or smartphone cameras), the opinions of accident reconstruction experts, and more. If a driver was drunk or in violation of another law, you can use a police officer’s account or a conviction against the driver. We will seek out the appropriate evidence needed to prove the underinsured driver’s negligence in your specific case.

In addition to proving the driver acted negligently, you must demonstrate that the accident actually caused your injuries. For example, if you had a back injury before the accident, treatment for that injury likely will not be covered (except in limited circumstances when a crash worsens a preexisting condition). One of the simplest ways to prove the cause of your injury is to obtain a medical diagnosis as soon as possible after the crash. A medical professional can note whether your injuries are consistent with car accident injuries and can document their severity.

Proving Your Damages

Proving fault is only the first step of a successful underinsured motorist insurance claim. You must also prove that your damages exceed the limits of the negligent driver’s insurance policy. Damages can include many different financial losses that stem from your injuries, including:

  • Costs of emergency treatments and ambulance transportation
  • Surgeries and postoperative treatments
  • Time in the hospital or intensive care unit
  • Medications
  • Medical equipment
  • Rehabilitative and physical therapy
  • Home health care
  • Income lost from time missed from work
  • Costs of transportation and other necessities for medical treatment
  • Estimated bills for any required future medical treatments needed

The cost of an ambulance ride and treatment in an emergency department can easily exceed $1,000 to $2,000, depending on the needed treatment. A night in the hospital can cost a few thousand dollarsmore if you need intensive care services. Surgery can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars, and the care you require after surgery can also add up quickly. These costs alone can easily exceed a $25,000 bodily injury policy and you can use your medical bills as proof of all of the losses you have already incurred.

Damages can increase exponentially if your injury caused long-lasting or permanent impairments or disabilities. This can require home health assistance in many cases, and you may need ongoing medical treatments for years or for the rest of your life. In these situations, you may need to consult with medical experts to estimate your future losses, because you can receive compensation for them. You cannot provide medical bills you have not yet received, so you must present expert opinions, treatment plans, and other evidence to prove your future estimated damages.

You need a lawyer who not only knows how to calculate all of your possible damages but also how to prove them to your insurance company.

Was Your Underinsured Motorist Claim Denied?

When you pay premiums for an underinsured motorist policy, you should expect to receive payment if you are injured by an underinsured motorist. Unfortunately, many people learn that their claims have been deniedeither partially or completely. An insurance company will try to justify denying a claim for many reasons, including:

  • Challenging your assertions of liability for the accident
  • Questioning the cause of your injury
  • Questioning the severity of your injuries and the necessity of all treatments
  • Challenging any estimates of future losses
  • Claiming you did not comply with all procedural requirements of your claim

Often, you can reduce the chances of a denial for the above reasons if you enlist the help of a car accident lawyer before you even file a claim. Our attorney can assist in ensuring you meet all requirements for your claim and put forth the most persuasive evidence possible. However, insurers may still try to deny even the strongest claims.

If you received a denial, an attorney can appeal the denial and negotiate for the amount you deserve by presenting new evidence and arguing on your behalf. Many insurance companies will still uphold a denial, and then you may need to take additional legal action. An underinsured motorist attorney can help you file a lawsuit against your insurance company demanding full payment for all of the costs of your accident.

Your policy will determine how your underinsured motorist case is tried. While some are held in a regular courtroom before your local court of common pleas, a panel of three arbitrators will hear most underinsured motorist cases. The insurance company chooses one arbitrator, your attorney chooses the second on your behalf, and the other two arbitrators chose the third. The three arbitrators listen to the evidence in your case and collectively reach a decision. The decision of the arbitrator is legally bindingeven if the decision is not in your favorso you want to ensure the right arbitrator hears your case and that your case is presented in the best light possible. The attorneys at The Levin Firm have worked with many arbitrators during their careers, and they know how to pick the best arbitrator for your particular case.

No matter how your underinsured motorist case is handled, you need an attorney with extensive experience. Insurance laws and processes are complicated, and you do not want to risk losing out on the compensation you deserve for your devastating losses.

Contact a Philadelphia Underinsured Motorist Attorney for More Information

Underinsured motorist cases are complex and require attorneys who understand how to aggressively represent their clients. At The Levin Firm, our Pennsylvania and New Jersey personal injury attorneys investigate every claim so that we may aggressively and zealously represent our clients and obtain the best possible results.

When you need a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, or New Jersey personal injury attorney to represent you, a family member, or a friend with an underinsured motorist claim, call The Levin Firm at (215) 825-5183 or contact us online.

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