I Was Hit by an Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist. What Should I Do?
June 8, 2022
Suppose a negligent driver hits you on a Colorado roadway. You are injured, angry, and frightened. Then to add insult to injury, you find out your medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages far exceed the limits of the at-fault driver’s auto insurance—or worse, that the driver has no insurance at all.
It may happen more than you think. The estimate of uninsured drivers in Colorado, despite the legal requirement to carry at least minimum liability coverage, exceeds 690,000 drivers.
If you have been injured by a negligent driver with no insurance or not enough insurance in Denver, Arvada, Aurora, Centennial, Englewood, Lakewood, Commerce City, or anywhere else in Colorado, reach out to our team. At Mark A. Simon, Attorney at Law, our car accident lawyer can help you seek the financial compensation that you deserve.
What Insurance Coverage
Is Required in Colorado?
Minimum liability insurance coverage is required by law in Colorado. Auto owners must carry at least $25,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person and at least $50,000 per accident. Their policy must also include at least $15,000 in liability coverage for property damage they cause. The only exception to this rule pertains to those who own more than 25 motor vehicles. They have the option of self-insuring against liability.
Colorado law also requires insurance companies to offer policyholders uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) at the same limits as their bodily injury liability coverage. For example, if you purchase a policy with $100,000 per-person bodily injury liability limits, the insurer must offer you at least $100,000 in UM/UIM coverage. You will pay an additional premium for that coverage. You can opt out of that coverage in writing.
Although not required by law, Colorado auto owners can purchase up to $25,000 in medical payment coverage as an add-on to their insurance policy. Medical payment benefits can be accessed to help cover medical expenses, regardless of who was at fault for the crash.
Is Colorado an At-Fault
State for Auto Insurance?
Colorado has been an at-fault state for car insurance for nearly 20 years. In fault states, the person responsible for causing the accident is financially responsible for the injuries and other damages they cause to other people. In a no-fault state, injury victims must first use their own auto insurance policy to pay for damages, even if someone else’s negligence caused the crash.
If the driver at fault has no liability insurance or not enough liability insurance, victims need to explore other options to compensate them for their injuries and losses.
How Does UM/UIM Work?
Colorado observes a modified comparative negligence rule which means fault can be attributed to victims as well. So long as the other driver’s percentage of fault is greater than any percentage of fault assigned to you, you can pursue a UM/UIM claim. If you can’t prove greater negligence by the other driver, you cannot file a claim against your UM/UIM coverage, even though you pay for the coverage as part of your auto insurance policy.
If the negligent driver was uninsured, or if the driver fled the scene of the crash and you do not know whether they are insured or not, you can file a claim against your UM coverage.
If the negligent driver’s bodily injury liability coverage will not fully compensate you for your damages, you can file a claim against your UIM coverage. For example, the at-fault driver had the minimum $25,000 liability coverage. The cost of your economic damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages, and your non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, is $100,000. You would then be able to file a UIM claim for up to $75,000 or up to the limits of your policy if your UIM coverage is less than $75,000.
You should not make the mistake of thinking that because your UM/UIM coverage is in your own auto policy, your insurance company will pay out easily. You will need to jump through all the same hurdles as you would when filing a claim against someone else’s policy.
Steps to Take if You Were Hit by an Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist
If the driver who causes a crash flees the scene, do not attempt to pursue them under any circumstances. Remain at the scene, call 911, and seek immediate medical attention, even if you do not think you are injured or are not sure. Some injuries are not readily apparent.
You will need a copy of the law enforcement crash report as evidence of a fleeing motorist or one with no proof of insurance to file an uninsured motorist claim if you have that coverage. If the other driver provides proof of insurance, you will need to learn what their bodily injury liability limits are. That driver’s insurance company may not disclose policy information unless you file a lawsuit to obtain a copy of the policy in discovery.
Once you have completed all medical treatment and have calculated the value of your damages, you may be able to file an underinsured motorist claim with your insurance company.
The Importance of
Experienced Legal Guidance
Filing a claim for your own uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits is often more challenging and time-consuming than filing a third-party claim against the at-fault driver’s liability coverage. Moreover, if you do not have UM/UIM coverage, your only option for compensation is to file suit against the driver and obtain a judgment against them. Either way, you should not attempt pursuing fair compensation without a seasoned personal injury attorney.
At Mark A. Simon, Attorney at Law, we tenaciously pursue every avenue possible to seek fair compensation for your injuries and other damages. It’s a challenge we take on for injury victims in and around Denver, Colorado every single day. If you were hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist whose negligence caused the crash, call our office now to schedule a case consultation.