Responsible drivers carry insurance to protect themselves in the event of an accident. Unfortunately, not everyone is as responsible as you. Sadly, it is estimated that 16% of drivers in the state of Washington do NOT have insurance.
In 2015, The Insurance Research Council found that Washington state ranked #7 in the nation for having the greatest percentage of uninsured drivers. There are also lots of people out there who carry small policy limits (Ex: $25,000 of liability coverage). Drivers in Washington are required to carry at least $25,000 in liability insurance coverage, but that small amount is too little to adequately compensate an injured motorcyclist.
UM/UIM is another type of coverage that insurance companies in Washington State are required to offer car drivers, but not motorcyclists. UIM is very important coverage to have and even more important for motorcyclists. If you do not have UM/UIM insurance, you are at financial risk if you are ever hit by an uninsured motorist or by someone without adequate coverage. You may think this is rare, but it happens much more than you may think!
In our clients’ motorcycle accident cases, on average we file a UM or UIM claim, or would file if the coverage was available, in over 50% of all motorcycle accident cases we handle!! Think about that for a second. In our experience over 50% of all at-fault drivers are underinsured when an accident involves a seriously injured motorcycle rider.
UM/UIM is the type of coverage that will protect you if the other driver has no insurance or not enough insurance to pay for all of your damages, like medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. This is also the insurance that will pay if you’re the victim of a hit-and-run driver. Since even a minor accident involving a motorcyclist can result in catastrophic injuries or death to the motorcyclist, it is important that the motorcyclist carry as much UM/UIM insurance as he or she can afford.
At MaxPower Law, we have represented many motorcyclists who did not have this coverage or had a small amount when the injuries they suffered were very severe and their damages substantial. Many times, the other driver will not carry enough insurance to cover all of the motorcyclist’s damages, so having high UM/UIM limits is well worth the money spent and can protect you from financial ruin.
Simply put, a motorcycle rider should carry at least $500,000 to $1,000,000 of UM/UIM coverage in our opinion. If you don’t have enough of this coverage, and you are injured by an underinsured driver, you could be forced to file for bankruptcy if there is not enough insurance to pay for your past and future medical bills.
Our client Bob was driving to work when a car made a left-hand turn in front of him. Bob had a green light, but the car failed to yield. Bob was left with no time to avoid the collision and slammed into the side of the car.
Bob was taken by ambulance to Harborview with a fractured pelvis, fractured wrist, road rash and pain all over his body. The broken pelvis and wrist both required surgical repairs. After surgery, Bob was not able to walk due to his pelvis injury and couldn’t use crutches or even a walker due to his broken wrist. As a result, he was forced to stay in the hospital for three weeks.
As you might imagine, his hospital bills were over $300,000 when he was finally released. On top of this, Bob was not going to be able to return to work for six months.
To make matters worse, the car that hit him had no insurance! Bob was faced with possible financial ruin and bankruptcy due to this uninsured driver. Luckily, Bob had the foresight to buy insurance on his motorcycle and buy Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage on that policy. He also had good health insurance which paid most of his medical bills.
We were able to get Bob’s insurance company to pay its $300,000 in UM policy limits. We were also able to get Bob’s health insurance to reduce its reimbursement amount by 75%. Instead of getting nothing, Bob received enough to get him through his recovery and back to work.
Here are the typical steps that happen when filing an uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist claim:
- You are hit by an underinsured motorist.
- You file a claim for coverage with the at-fault party’s insurance company as soon as possible.
- If you believe the motorist is underinsured, you may also want to contact your insurance company to notify them of the situation.
- Your insurance company may open a claim immediately, or they may wait until the other party’s insurer has responded to your claim.
- If the other party’s insurance company is unable to pay all of your claim (or the other driver is uninsured), your insurance company will begin their own investigation.
- Once the investigation is complete, you should be entitled to receive compensation based upon your policy limits if your claim is deemed valid. That doesn’t mean they are just going to write you a check, but you can make an injury claim. In states with comparative negligence, your claim may be prorated to reflect the level of fault you shared in the accident.
If your insurance company denies your claim or fails to offer what you believe is the appropriate amount, you may be able to go to arbitration or take legal action on the matter. If this happens to you, be sure to speak with an experience motorcycle accident attorney to find out what options are available to you.
At MaxPower Law, we have helped injured riders navigate the claim process and work with the insurance companies. If you have been in a serious accident call our local Washington motorcycle accident attorneys to learn more about your legal rights. Call us at 425-230-5732 to set up your FREE consultation today.