Ohio Personal Injury Litigation: Uninsured or underinsured motorist (UIM) claims

Attorney Casey Jones

Despite laws requiring drivers to carry insurance, we have unfortunately seen a number of cases recently involving accidents caused by uninsured or underinsured motorists. Luckily, most car insurance policies can provide some relief in these circumstances.

When does a UIM claim come into play?

An uninsured driver scenario is fairly self-explanatory – the driver who causes the accident doesn’t have insurance and, thus, collecting on a claim against him or her may prove difficult, so you have to go through your own auto insurance policy for compensation. An example of an underinsured driver, on the other hand, may be a situation where you are in an accident caused by another driver, and your medical bills and lost wages total around $40,000.00; however, the at-fault driver only has policy limits of $10,000.00. Your own auto insurance policy may kick in to cover the difference, as well as additional damages for pain and suffering. Of note, many underinsured motorist policies have specific conditions – for example, coverage may only “kick in” if the at-fault driver’s coverage is below a certain threshold, regardless of whether that threshold adequately compensates the victim.

“My insurance company is not offering me as much as I think the claim is worth. . .”

Many people operate under the reasonable but, unfortunately, mistaken belief that because it is their own insurance company that is responsible for paying a UIM claim, they should have an easier time receiving fair compensation.

“But we pay them ‘good money’ each month in premiums, and they work for us. Shouldn’t they be willing to pay more to make us whole?”

Many are surprised to learn that really isn’t the case.

We often hear complaints that the insurance company is offering an insultingly low settlement figure. It is not uncommon for our clients to have already received an offer before they reach out to us, and they do so because aren’t satisfied with the initial offer.

We can help make sure you submit an appropriate demand amount, provide all of the supporting documentation for your insurance company to make a reasonable and informed settlement offer, and frame your claim in a way that makes sense for the assigned adjuster, all in order to maximize your recovery.

. . . And if they still don’t offer a reasonable settlement figure?

Insurance companies are bound by a duty of good faith in investigating and evaluating first-party claims like UIM claims. If your insurance company unreasonably denies your claim, refuses to make a timely investigation and offer (i.e., drags their feet), or offers you an unreasonably low figure relative to your damages after exhausting all negotiations, you may have an additional claim for bad faith. If successful in bringing that claim, you may also be entitled to punitive damages, court costs, and/or attorneys’ fees, in addition to your recovery on the underlying accident claim.

We are here to help…

I often hear of car accident victims being afraid to involve an attorney for fear that their legal fees may “eat into” any settlement they may receive. While this is certainly a valid concern, working with counsel frequently has the opposite effect, ultimately. This is because we can often increase the “net” to you by framing your claim in a way that maximizes recovery and, possibly, getting your subrogation liens reduced where appropriate. We make it a priority to never take a case unless we believe we can “create value” for the client. Please feel free to reach out to me at (513) 943-5673 or [email protected] if you’d like to set up a free consultation. I am also offering remote consultations to during this time to honor COVID-19 health concerns.