How Do I File A UM/UIM Claim in Alabama?

How Do I File A UM/UIM Claim in Alabama?Car, truck, and motorcycle accidents often involve multiple vehicles. Some victims may be pedestrians and bicycle riders. Ideally, the drivers responsible for your accident have liability insurance and the amount of that coverage is enough to pay for all your damages. When the defendants don’t have insurance or don’t have enough insurance, your uninsured/underinsured (called UM/UIM) insurance coverage may be used to cover the balance of your damage claim.

There are complex questions about using UM/UIM coverage that our Huntsville car accident insurance lawyers can explain. These questions include who can file a UM/UIM claim, what happens if the driver is not the owner of the vehicle, and which UM/UIM policy covers your claim (yours or the owner of the vehicle in which you were a driver or an occupant). At Martin & Helms, P.C., we’ll help you understand your rights, file the correct claims, and seek the damages you’re due from the correct insurance carriers.

Who can file a UM/UIM claim?

Let’s assume that another driver strikes your car, a 2020 Ford vehicle, and that driver is clearly liable for your accident. Let’s also assume that the responsible driver did not have any insurance. Finally, let’s assume that you, as the owner of the 2020 Ford, accepted UM/UIM coverage for your vehicle.

You, as the owner of the 2020 Ford, and any passenger in your vehicle can file a claim through the insurance company which insures your 2020 Ford for UM/UIM benefits to cover bodily injury damages.

You and the passengers in the 2020 Ford could also file a UM/UIM claim through your insurance carrier if the driver who caused the accident had some insurance, but not enough insurance to pay each victim’s full claim.

What if the driver is not the owner of the vehicle?

Generally, if the vehicle’s owner gives another person such as a son, daughter, spouse, or friend permission to drive their vehicle; then that driver can file a UM/UIM claim with the insurance carrier for the vehicle that is in the owner’s name.

Which UM/UIM policy covers your accident claim – yours, or the owner of the vehicle in which you were a driver or an occupant?

Sometimes, a driver strikes a pedestrian or a bicycle rider. In this scenario, if the pedestrian owned a car and had UM/UIM insurance, the pedestrian could file a UM/UIM claim with his/her UM/UIM carrier – provided the negligent driver did not have insurance or didn’t have enough insurance.

The same logic applies to an injured bicycle rider. If a negligent driver strikes a bicycle rider, the bicycle rider will file a legal claim against the driver. If the driver does not have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to pay the bicycle driver’s claim, the bicycle rider can file a UM/UIM claim with his own UM/UIM carrier – if the bicycle rider owns a car and has UM/UIM coverage for that car.

In addition, if a pedestrian or bicycle rider did not own his/her own car, but lived with a family member whose car had  UM/UIM insurance, then the injured pedestrian or bicycle rider could file a UM/UIM claim through that family member’s UM/UIM insurance. For example, if a car strikes and injures a teenage bicycle rider, the teenager could file a claim through his parent’s UM/UIM policy for the car the parents drive.

If a loved one died, the family has a right to file a wrongful death claim against the responsible driver. If that driver doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to pay the wrongful death claim, the family can file a wrongful death claim with the UM/UIM carrier for the decedent, if the decedent owned a car and had UM/UIM coverage for that car.

If, going back to our 2020 Ford example, a passenger in that vehicle is injured in an accident and the responsible driver doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance, the passenger can file a UM/UIM claim with the owner of the 2020 Ford’s UM/UIM carrier. If the passenger also had his/her own UM/UIM coverage with a separate car, the passenger should be able to use either or both UM/UIM policies – the 2020 Ford UM/UIM policy and/or the passenger’s own UM/UIM policy. Our car accident lawyers will explain which UM/UIM policy(s) the passenger can use, whether one must be used before the other, and up to what insurance coverage amounts.

What are the key elements of a UM/UIM claim?

You should give your own insurance company or the applicable UM/UIM carrier prompt notice of the accident and that you’ll be filing a UM/UIM claim. The UM/UIM carrier does have the right to conduct their own investigation, speak to witnesses, and review your medical status and expenses.

We’ll help you gather the necessary evidence, including conducting our own investigation, reviewing the police report, formally questioning the responsible parties and any witnesses, and reviewing any videos or photographic evidence. We’ll examine other relevant evidence including the insurance policies.

If we settle your claim with the driver’s insurance carrier, we do need to notify the UM/UIM carrier about the settlement and get their consent too.

After the investigation is complete and the discovery phase of the case is complete, then in cases where we’re seeking to have the UM/UIM carrier pay your claim, we’ll present a formal demand detailing why we think the other drivers (or other defendants) are liable, all your financial and personal damages, and evidence that the other drivers/defendants don’t have liability insurance or don’t have enough insurance to pay your full claim.

We’ll then negotiate with the UM/UIM carrier to try to settle your claim. If the claim cannot be settled, we’ll present your case before a local judge and jury.

At Martin & Helms, P.C., our Huntsville personal injury attorneys have been fighting for accident victims for over 25 years. We fight to obtain full compensation for your financial and personal damages. We understand the unique challenges when the responsible defendants failed to live up to their duty to buy insurance or didn’t buy enough liability insurance to cover your full claim. We’re skilled at filing claims with every responsible insurance carrier including the UM/UIM carriers that should pay for any damages not covered by the other insurance companies.

To review your rights after any car, truck, or motorcycle accident, please call us or submit our contact form to schedule a free consultation. Our lawyers have offices in Huntsville and Decatur, and serve clients in Madison, Athens, and throughout North Alabama.