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Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM) in California and What to Do When You Need to Take on Your Own Insurance Company

Back in April, a study from UC-Davis revealed that traffic accidents fell by half during the stay-at-home orders triggered by the pandemic. In mid-May, though, the news wasn’t so good, as the Los Angeles Times reported that traffic deaths were back up to their pre-lockdown levels. As people gradually return to their old routines, it is a sad reality that auto accidents, injuries and deaths will ensue. If you’re hurt in an accident, don’t wait… retain an experienced San Mateo car accident attorney right away.

Here in California, the state-mandated minimum insurance coverage is commonly referred to as “15/30/5,” which means $15,000 per person, $30,000 per accident and $5,000 of property damage. Anyone who’s been hurt in a California auto accident can undoubtedly tell you just how easily and quickly one can rack up more than $15,000 in medical expenses following a crash. Ideally, when your bills exceed the other driver’s insurance coverage, that is when your own underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage (UIM) steps in. Unfortunately, it’s too often not as simple as that. So, it’s possible to be harmed by the driver who hit you and – especially if that driver has only minimum coverage (or no coverage at all) – to be harmed by your own insurance company.

An action (Case No. 20-2372-JAC) that followed a Southern California crash is a good example. In that crash, a nurse in her 60s was hit by a left-turning driver who improperly failed to yield the right of way. The accident was serious enough that the nurse’s vehicle’s airbags deployed, and she was rendered unconscious for a short time. The nurse experienced a great deal of ongoing neck pain and, ultimately, her doctor recommended a discectomy and fusion surgery. The injuries were bad enough that they even had altered the nurse’s planned timing of her retirement.

The driver who hit the nurse had insurance, but only minimal coverage – meaning the policy limit was $15,000. The nurse’s damages were far in excess of $15,000, but her insurer offered her only a few thousand dollars, forcing her to take the insurer to arbitration.

The insurer’s final offer before the hearing was just $15,220. The nurse, however, had the right legal representation, who knew what her case was worth. Her legal team had the evidence needed to prove that the nurse was actually entitled to much, much more. When the arbitration hearing was over, the arbitrator awarded the nurse $151,000 (less the $15,000 paid by the other driver.) In other words, the nurse was actually entitled to roughly ten times what her insurer had proposed to pay her.

After you’ve been injured in an auto accident, you are hurting and you’re probably very stressed. Unfortunately, you still have many fights ahead of you, potentially one over an insurance claim. You may have to fight the other driver’s insurance company, but you may have to fight your own insurance company, too. When it comes to taking on these battles, rely on legal pros who have been through these battles many times before. Count on the experienced San Mateo car accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos. Our attorneys have been taking on insurance companies on behalf of our clients – and winning – for many years. To set up a free consultation with one of our helpful attorneys, contact us at 650-345-8484 or through our website.

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