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Car Accidents Involving Uninsured Motorists

At Zbinden & Curtis Attorneys At Law in Portland, OR, we understand the confusion and frustration that can arise when you’re involved in a car accident. These feelings can become even more intense when the other party is uninsured or underinsured. It’s a situation that adds an extra layer of hassle to an already stressful time.

Our firm is committed to offering guidance and support to people navigating the aftermath of uninsured motorist accidents, and we ensure they understand their legal and insurance options clearly. This article aims to explain the process and offer practical advice on how to protect your rights effectively. However, if you need personalized advice that’s unique to your situation, call our office today.

Understanding Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage are provisions in auto insurance policies that provide a safety net if you find yourself in an accident with a person who either lacks insurance or has insufficient coverage to pay for the damages they caused. UM coverage steps in to cover bodily injury to you and your passengers, while UIM coverage can make up the difference if the at-fault driver’s insurance is not enough to cover the full cost of the harm.

In Portland, UM is a requirement for all licensed drivers, but just across the bridge in Washington, it is not. If you live in Vancouver and work in Portland, you may lack the necessary coverage that protects you from an uninsured driver. This can be particularly dangerous in Portland, where drivers from all over come to enjoy the city. Zbinden & Curtis Attorneys At Law encourages every driver to request this coverage, even if it’s not a requirement in your state.

Filing a Claim

When you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, the first step is to file a claim with your insurance company under your UM or UIM coverage. This process involves notifying your insurer about the accident, providing them with all the relevant details, and submitting any required documentation. Police reports, medical records, and proof of the other driver’s insurance status are all important pieces of evidence that your insurance company will need.

Challenges and Pitfalls

Dealing with insurance companies can be challenging. Insurers are businesses looking to minimize their payouts, which can sometimes lead to offers that are less than the actual damages or injuries you sustained. It’s important to remember that you do not have to accept the first offer from your insurance company. If the offer seems low, you have the right to negotiate or seek legal assistance to ensure you receive fair compensation.

Important Considerations When Dealing with Insurance Companies

  • Documentation Is Key: Keep detailed records of everything related to the accident and your injuries. This includes police reports, medical bills, repair estimates, and any communication with insurance companies.
  • Understand Your Policy: Familiarize yourself with the terms of your insurance policy, especially regarding UM and UIM coverage. Knowing your policy inside out will help you to make informed decisions after an accident. You’ll know what is covered, what is not covered, and how compensation is awarded after an accident.
  • Don’t Rush to Settle: Insurance companies may try to settle claims quickly to close the file. Take your time to understand the full extent of your damages and injuries before agreeing to any settlement. You can do this by waiting to begin your claim until after you’ve spoken with a medical professional or body shop.

Protecting Your Rights and Interests

After an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you’ll need to take steps to protect your rights and interests. This includes:

  • Seeking Medical Attention: Even if you don’t feel injured immediately after the accident, some injuries may take time to manifest. Head or spinal injuries often don’t show symptoms for days. Seeing a doctor right away ensures your injuries are documented from the start. Your injuries could also include lengthy treatment plans or rehabilitation programs that aren’t accounted for right away. If you close your claim too early, you may have to pay for ongoing care yourself.
  • Consulting with an Auto Accident Lawyer: A legal professional can provide advice tailored to your situation and help you navigate the complexities of insurance claims. We can also argue on your behalf so you receive a fairer offer.

Comparative Negligence in Oregon and Washington

In some cases, both parties in an accident may share some level of blame for what happened. States vary in how they handle these situations. Washington, under its comparative negligence model, allows you to recover a percentage of your damages regardless of your fault percentage. That is, if you are 75% at fault for the accident, you can still receive 25% of your damages from the other person.

In Oregon, however, the concept of comparative negligence is modified slightly. If you are found to be more than 50% responsible for a Portland auto accident, the court will bar you from receiving any compensation from the other party. It’s particularly important in Oregon to prove your side of the story. Otherwise, you may not receive all the compensation you need to cover your damages.

More Things to Consider About Auto Accidents with Uninsured Motorists

  • Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD): In addition to bodily injury, some policies offer coverage for property damage caused by an uninsured motorist. This coverage can help repair your vehicle if the at-fault party lacks the financial resources to pay for the damages.
  • Legal Action Against Uninsured Motorists: Pursuing legal action against an uninsured motorist is certainly an option, but it often presents challenges. If the at-fault party lacked insurance due to financial issues, recovering damages through a lawsuit will be difficult. If they don’t have the income to cover your damages, all of your compensation will need to come from your UM coverage. However, each case is unique, and consulting with one of our experienced auto accident attorneys can help you explore all your available options.

Call Zbinden & Curtis Attorneys At Law Today

At Zbinden & Curtis Attorneys At Law, we understand the stress and uncertainty that comes with car accidents, particularly those involving uninsured or underinsured drivers. However, with the right information and support, you can protect your rights and receive the compensation you need. Remember, you don’t have to face this challenging time alone. Call Zbinden & Curtis Attorneys At Law at (503) 287-5000.

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