Personal Injury Lawyers » Can I File an Underinsured Motorist Claim?
In Order to File an Underinsured Motorist Claim, You Must Have Exhausted the Liable Driver’s Insurance Policy First
The quick answer is no. An underinsured motorist claim is a claim brought through your insurance coverage to make up for whatever damages that exceed the policy limits of the at-fault party’s insurance; such as loss of wages, medical bills, physical damages, property damage, and other like forms of damages. If you were to settle your claim for the maximum policy limits you will be able to make an underinsured claim with your insurance company, but by taking a settlement offer that is less than the policy limits you forfeit your rights to make an underinsurance claim. This is because by settling for less than policy limits you are in effect consenting that sum of money will cover all your injuries arising out of the accident.
How Can I Make Sure That I Settle at the Maximum of the Policy Limits?
Negotiating settlements without a lawyer is extremely tricky, the insurance company and their representatives are skilled and trained at what they do; they will try to take advantage of your lack of experience and lack of attorney representation to persuade you to settle for less than what you deserve. In negotiating settlements the Stowers Doctrine has been long used to facilitate fair settlement procedures.
Often times insurance companies will impose a tactic known as shaving, this is offering a settlement of less than the policy limits of their policy in order to save money. The Stowers doctrine provides that if an insurance company fails to accept a reasonable settlement offer from the plaintiff and the action proceeds to court, the insurance company will be liable for the entire judgment even if such judgment exceeds the amount of the policy limits of the insurance coverage.
Certain elements need to be met before the doctrine is activated. Stowers inflicts no duty on an insurance company to make independent efforts to settle. The insurance company is only required to respond to settlement offers that it receives from the plaintiffs. In order to qualify, the offer must be a clear offer to release the insurance company and their client from all liability for an amount that is within the limits of the policy. The insurance company must be given a reasonable time to respond.
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The duty to settle under Stowers is not unconditional. The insurance company is not required to settle if a reasonable uninsured would not do so. However, these types of claims are rarely successful. To be successful in these type cases it is important to be represented by someone who will serve your best interest, will inform you of your rights, and has experience in all facets of personal injury law. The attorneys at our law office have more than 20 years of experience in the practice of personal injury law and will make sure that you receive the maximum amount of recovery that you are entitled to under the law. Call us for further information on how they can serve you.