by Scott Blumenshine
Imagine you were injured by a car that crashed into you. The accident is clearly the fault of the other driver. You are taken by ambulance to the nearest emergency room. Surgery is required and you will be in the hospital for several days. You almost hear the frequent chime of a cash register as the medical bills add up.
It turns out that you are hurt so severely, your full recovery is the subject of speculation. All the while, you are losing wages because you are unable to work. Your car is totaled, but you still must make the payments. Then, to add to your stress, you discover the driver who plowed into you has no insurance. What will you do? Will your own automobile insurance policy cover you?
To register a car in Illinois, owners must show proof that they carry the minimum amount of car insurance, which is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. Even so, more than 13 percent of Illinois drivers are uninsured. These drivers get insurance so they can register their cars, then cancel it shortly after to avoid paying premiums. In other situations, drivers may believe they are insured, but their insurers deny coverage.
Fortunately, responsible drivers who do not cancel their insurance automatically have uninsured motorist (UM) coverage in the same minimum amounst of $25,000/$50,000. This is also required by Illinois law. If drivers want less UM coverage, they must put their desire to choose lower coverage in writing.
Insurers encourage drivers to get more UM coverage, not less. Paying a few dollars more for extra UM coverage will seem like a pittance when compared to the thousands it may cost in medical bills later. For drivers who choose UM coverage in amounts more than the required minimum, underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage will automatically be included. UIM coverage clicks in when the at-fault driver has the legally minimum coverage, but it is not enough to cover the injured person’s damages.
UM insurance also covers drivers who are in a collision with a hit-and-run driver or with a driver of a stolen vehicle. For a complete understanding of UM coverage, download the free eBook offered by UM attorneys at Meyer & Blumenshine.
Automobile insurance contracts generally have clauses that require you to bring a claim within a certain period after the accident. They also impose time limits on requesting arbitration if your claim is denied or the amount you are asking for is less than you believe you deserve. These time limits are often shorter than the state statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit.
The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that the time limits set out in the insurance policy are the ones that control. If you miss any of those deadlines, you will lose your right to collect under your uninsured motorist insurance policy.
Even though there may still be time for you to file a personal injury lawsuit, drivers who do not carry the legally required car insurance generally have minimum assets. This means collecting from them directly to pay for your damages is unlikely.
The good news is that if you carry the legally required auto insurance, you have UM insurance. The bad news is that there are a lot of rules that must be followed to collect for your injuries. At Meyer & Blumenshine, we have the experience you need to pursue your claim. We pursue your claim until you receive all the compensation the law allows. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.