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How Can a Car Accident Lawyer Help Me File a UM/UIM Claim?

How Can a Car Accident Lawyer Help Me File a UM/UIM Claim?

A car accident lawyer can do more than help you file an uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) claim. Your attorney can ensure the claim gets filed, but they can also deal with insurance companies and demand all the compensation you deserve.

You can seek compensation from an uninsured motorist by suing. If you choose to pursue this path, an Orange County car accident lawyer can help with your lawsuit, too.

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Who Needs to File a UM/UIM Claim?

You may need to file a UM/UIM insurance claim if:

  • You were hit by an uninsured motorist
  • You were hit by a motorist whose insurance does not adequately cover the cost of your losses
  • Other circumstances make a UM/UIM claim necessary

Motorists in most states must show financial responsibility for vehicles they own and accidents they may cause under the law. Most drivers purchase auto insurance, but some drivers choose to forego insurance or unwittingly allow their insurance coverage to lapse. In fact, about 14 percent of drivers were uninsured across the United States in recent years.

Unfortunately, it is all too likely an uninsured driver might hit you, leading to a UM/UIM claim. Hiring an attorney is the right decision if you or a loved one are facing possible financial hardship because of an uninsured or underinsured motorist.

Is Suing an Option After a Collision with an Uninsured (or Underinsured) Motorist

Drivers exchanging contact information and insurance details via smartphones after a car accident for insurance claims.

Filing a lawsuit may be an option if you were hit by a motorist who lacks adequate insurance coverage. A lawyer can review your circumstances and explain if suing makes sense.

The financial circumstances of at-fault parties will be one factor you and your lawyer consider. Those who may be defendants in a car accident lawsuit include:

  • A motorist who caused your accident: Motorists can be held financially responsible for their actions, including those that cause a victim’s injury or death. Speeding, tailgating, drunk driving, and countless other forms of motorist negligence can lead to a lawsuit.
  • A municipality whose employees contributed to your accident: If poor road conditions, dangerous work zones, defective traffic signals, or other infrastructural hazards contributed to your car accident, you may sue a municipality. There are often short deadlines for suing a municipality, which is one of many reasons to hire your lawyer as soon as possible.
  • A motor vehicle manufacturer: Victims can sue the manufacturer when defective vehicles or components cause accidents. You can also sue the person who sold the vehicle if their negligence contributed to your accident.
  • An employer whose employee caused your accident: When employees cause accidents while working, their employer can be financially liable. This may be an important consideration if the motorist lacks adequate insurance.

Your car accident attorney will establish liability for your accident. Once you have determined who is financially responsible for your accident-related damages, your lawyer will initiate a claim or lawsuit against those parties.

Action to Take Immediately After an Accident with an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist

You can only control so much after an accident. Do everything possible to protect your health and position your case for success, including:

Getting Treatment for Injuries

Injuries from your accident may require:

  • Diagnostic imaging, including but not limited to X-rays
  • Emergency department care
  • Hospitalization
  • Surgery
  • Medications
  • Rehabilitation
  • Other medical services

Medical expenses often make up a significant portion of an accident victim’s damages. Keep copies of all medical documentation that can benefit your case, including bills and images of injuries.

Seeking Any Necessary Mental Health Services

You can also seek compensation for certain damages, known as pain and suffering. If you are experiencing any psychological or emotional hardship due to your accident, see a mental health professional as soon as possible.

Documenting your pain and suffering is as important as detailing your physical injuries. You must establish a connection between your accident and your pain and suffering, so you shouldn’t wait to seek mental health services.

Finding a Car Accident Lawyer to File a UM/UIM Claim (and Sue if Necessary)

Your attorney will take the lead in your case, and the first step is finding and hiring the right lawyer for your case. As soon as you hire your attorney, they will:

  • Take over communications with insurers
  • Advise you in every aspect of your claim or lawsuit
  • Begin gathering evidence
  • Ensure you are receiving the medical and mental health treatment you need

Your health and your case both demand that you hire your car accident lawyer as soon as possible.

Reasons Not to Wait Before Hiring Your Lawyer

There are several specific and compelling reasons to choose your lawyer as soon as possible. Retain your lawyer right away because:

  • Collecting evidence is a time-sensitive responsibility: Evidence of negligence will be an important piece of your case. Certain forms of evidence, including witness testimony, may become useless if you wait too long to collect it. Hire your lawyer as soon as possible so they can gather all the evidence that will benefit your case.
  • You need protection from insurers: Insurance companies may apply pressure on an accident victim shortly after the collision happens. You can face an unfair denial, pressure to accept a lowball settlement, and other bad-faith tactics from which a lawyer will protect you.
  • There are deadlines for filing a lawsuit: Each state sets deadlines for injury lawsuits. For instance, California law generally requires you to file personal injury cases within two years of a car accident. It can be shorter or longer in other states. Time can slip by after a collision, so don’t push off your choice of a lawyer. If you hire them in time, your attorney will ensure any necessary lawsuit gets filed before deadlines expire.

There is no good reason to wait before hiring a lawyer. Hiring a car accident attorney will not add stress to your life; it will relieve stress.

You should do your homework before picking an attorney. However, once you identify a law firm that is a strong fit for your needs, retain that firm without delay.

Your Lawyer Will Oversee Every Aspect of Your UM/UIM Claim

Businessman shaking hands with lawyers discussing a contract agreement. Legal advice and justice concept.

The claims process is, in many cases, a high-stakes endeavor. You may be entitled to tens of thousands of dollars (or more), and the claims process is the path to compensation. You may be well-served having an experienced lawyer oversee this process, and they will:

Analyze Insurance Policies (Including UM/UIM Coverage)

The details of applicable insurance policies will be highly relevant to your claim. Your attorney will:

  • Review your own auto insurance policy, specifically looking for UM/UIM coverage
  • Evaluate the policy of anyone liable for your accident (such as another motorist)
  • Examine coverage limits on all applicable policies
  • Compare the monetary value of your losses to available insurance coverage

Your legal team will study these policies to the point where they know exactly what each policy says and what coverage policies provide. This will prepare your attorney to negotiate confidently with insurance companies.

Identify Those Who Owe You Compensation

Your lawyer will identify parties that owe you compensation for accident-related losses, starting with insurance companies. Your insurer and a third-party insurance company may owe you money for your losses.

Your lawyer will also identify liable parties who may be defendants in a lawsuit, including motorists, vehicle manufacturers, and a municipality.

Document Your Accident-Related Losses

Your accident-related losses will determine how much compensation you deserve. Your attorney will secure all available documentation of those losses, which may include:

  • MRIs, CT scans, X-rays, and other medical images
  • Photographs of visible injuries
  • Medical bills
  • Doctors’ written diagnoses of injuries and related symptoms
  • Mechanics’ estimates and invoices for vehicle repairs
  • Proof of lost income and other professional damages

Your attorney will know how to identify and gather all relevant documentation.

Negotiate with Insurers

Your attorney will represent you in financial negotiations with insurance companies. They will present evidence of negligence and documentation of damages they gather during their investigation. This documentation will support your lawyer’s settlement demands.

Explain Whether a Lawsuit Is Necessary

Your attorney may complete multiple negotiating rounds with insurers. They will have specific demands and demand that insurers meet those demands.

A lawsuit may be necessary if insurance companies refuse to offer compensation or only extend lowball settlements. Your attorney will discuss the possibility of filing a lawsuit if it becomes relevant.

Other Services Your Lawyer Can Provide

In addition to overseeing insurance claims, your lawyer will:

  • Advise you throughout your case: A lawyer’s advice and guidance is one of their greatest gifts. You won’t have to wonder or worry about what to do following your accident. Your lawyer will provide clear instructions to place you in a position for physical and financial recovery.
  • Gathering evidence: Your lawyer will immediately seek evidence related to your accident. Whether you are engaged in the claims process or a lawsuit, this evidence will be critical.
  • Handling administrative aspects of your case: Your legal team will oversee communications, paperwork, and all other administrative aspects of your case.
  • Filing a lawsuit: If you decide you want to file a lawsuit, your lawyer will file it for you. They will draft and file the lawsuit accurately and timely with the proper legal venue.
  • Completing a trial: If you file a lawsuit and your case goes to trial, your attorney will represent you in court. The trial is typically a complex, long-term process. Your attorney may have years of prior experience representing car accident victims at trial, and this experience will be a credit to your case.

Leave the legwork to a lawyer. You deserve to focus on your health and your recovery demands that you do.

Recoverable Damages (or Losses) for Auto Accident Victims

Your losses (also known as damages) will be the centerpiece of your case. Your attorney will document these losses and determine their financial value. Some of the most common losses among car accident victims are:

Healthcare Expenses

Your lawyer will value the cost of accident-related medical items and services, which may include:

  • Emergency medical care
  • Ambulance transport
  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Hospitalization
  • Surgery
  • Medications
  • Medical equipment
  • Rehabilitation services

Healthcare is expensive, and car accident victims often need extensive medical care. Your lawyer will work to secure fair compensation for all accident-related medical care.

Pain and Suffering

Man with a plaster cast on his thumb, wrist, and hand after a car accident injury.

Attorneys know how to value pain and suffering, which can include:

  • Physical pain related to your injuries
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Sleep problems
  • Lost quality of life

Mental health experts may help your lawyer diagnose, document, and value all pain and suffering stemming from your car accident.

Vehicle Damage

If you need to repair or replace your vehicle, your lawyer will seek equivalent compensation from insurance companies. If any other property was damaged during your car accident, your lawyer will seek fair compensation for those damaged items.

Professional Harm

Injuries from a car accident may prevent you from working or alter the type and amount of work you can do. This may cause:

  • Lost income
  • Diminished earning power
  • Lost opportunities to earn promotions and performance bonuses
  • Loss of benefits you receive through your employer

When calculating your case value, your legal team will account for such professional damages.

The Cost of Being Disabled

If any of your accident-related injuries are disabling, you may need:

  • Medical equipment
  • Long-term medical care
  • In-home caregiver services
  • Extensive rehabilitation services
  • Long-term income replacement

Disabilities also come with pain and suffering. Your attorney will have experience representing disabled clients, so they will know how to value your disability accurately.

Challenges and Risks You Face If You Handle Your Own Claim

Greg Bentley, Personal injury lawyer

Greg Bentley, Car Accident Lawyer

If you don’t hire a lawyer, you are solely responsible for obtaining the compensation you deserve. You may have to learn about insurance claims and lawsuits and negotiate with liable parties for a fair settlement. This may be all the more difficult if you suffer an injury or are struggling psychologically.

Don’t Wait to Hire Your Car Accident Lawyer

Begin looking for a qualified personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Complete free consultations to determine which law firm is right for your case.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation