If you or a loved one has been in an automobile accident, among the first things that you must address are the many auto accident insurance issues that arise in a car accident claim. Among the first of these insurance issues that will come up is the issue of the other driver being either uninsured or underinsured.
The issue of uninsured or underinsured drivers can be a challenge for those injured in auto accidents. Unfortunately, where the at-fault driver has little or no liability insurance, locating alternative coverage is a must.
The Albuquerque personal injury lawyers of Collins & Collins, P.C. can help to identify all available coverage to insure that you are compensated to fullest possible extent for your injuries, losses and other damages.
New Mexico Has a High Rate of Uninsured Motorists
In auto accident cases in New Mexico, the other driver will often have little or no insurance coverage. This means that there is a good chance that the other driver will have no liability insurance to cover the damages that he or she has caused.
Where the other driver does have insurance, it is very likely that the driver will be grossly underinsured for cases involving even moderately severe personal injuries, much less very serious injuries or wrongful death.
Minimal Liability Policy Limits are Only $25,000 in New Mexico
Many New Mexico drivers carry only the minimally required liability coverage. The minimal liability policy limits in New Mexico are only $25,000.00. This amount is frequently insufficient to compensate an injured plaintiff.
It is easy to see why when you think about all the damages that a car accident can cause. For instance, medical bills alone can easily exceed $25,000.
Then there are all the other elements of damages that will go uncompensated in a case where the other driver has no liability insurance. That will sadly be the case in the absence of other available coverage.
Your Own Insurance May be the Only Available Coverage
This makes your own auto insurance extremely important. Every auto accident case will begin with an evaluation of the insurance situation of both parties, the other driver’s and your own.
Hopefully, you have obtained Underinsured Motorist Coverage. Assuming you have it, this is often the only coverage available to you in an auto accident.
Keep in mind that just because your insurance company says you do not have underinsured coverage does not make it so!
There are very strict laws on the rejection of underinsured motorist coverage. When the insurance company has not followed the guidelines, you will be deemed to have underinsured coverage at the same level as you liability limits.
Underinsured Coverage is One of the Few Bargains in Insurance
Underinsured coverage is pretty inexpensive. It is a good deal for the insured, and often is the only protection available for the insured. This is why the law requires that an insured party expressly waive or reject underinsured coverage in writing for the waiver of coverage to be valid.
Think about this for a moment and you will understand the motivations of the insurance company. Ask yourself why an insurance company would ever ask you to opt out of coverage, thereby losing a premium.
The answer is that it is good for you and generally not so good for the insurance company.
Identify Insurance Coverage as Soon as Possible
If you are in an accident, it is important to identify all available coverage as soon as possible. For purposes of underinsured coverage, you should gather all of your auto insurance information immediately for every vehicle in your home.
Declaration Page: The most important document for a lawyer reviewing your case is the Declaration Page (“Dec Page”). This is the cover page of your insurance which sets forth the precise coverage that you have on your policies.
Stacking: Keep in mind that New Mexico unlike some other states allow you to stack underinsured coverage of all vehicles in the home. This means that if you have 3 vehicles and each has $25,000 underinsured, you have a total of $75,000 in underinsured coverage.
Offset: Understand that if the other party has insurance, your underinsured policy covers only the total underinsured available less the amount of the other party’s insurance. In other words, if you have $75,000, and the other party has $25,000, then you have total of $50,000 available in underinsured coverage.
Hopefully, you have underinsured coverage. If you don’t, buy it now for the future. It will provide some protection for you and your family against what can be financially devastating injuries.
An Attorney Can Help
If you have been in an accident, gather all your insurance coverage information for an attorney to evaluate your claim. An experienced auto accident attorney will be able to dig up all available coverage for your injuries and damages.
Knowing that there is coverage available to compensate you for your damages will go a long way toward alleviating some of the stress that an auto accident can cause for you and your family.