When we represent in an accident and injury case, one of the most important issues is determining insurance coverage. Usually, there is an interplay of several different insurance policies. The driver at fault hopefully has insurance and it may cover the damages you sustained in the car wreck. Montana law requires all drivers to carry liability insurance of $25,000 for the injury or death of one person and $50,000 for the injury or death of more than one person. The policy must also include $10,000 for damage to property. If you are the only person injured in the accident, the policy should pay $25,000 for your injuries. If more people are injured, the most the minimum policy will pay is $50,000 (plus the $10,000 if damage to property applies). As you can imagine, this often is not enough to cover all the damages victims experience. And worse, many drivers refuse to carry insurance.
If the at-fault driver carries no insurance, your own car insurance policy may apply. Most policies have uninsured motorist coverage. Under the terms and conditions in your insurance policy, you may be able to recover from your own insurance company if we can prove that the other driver is uninsured.
Along the same lines, if the at-fault driver’s insurance is insufficient to cover your damages, and your coverage is greater than the other driver’s insurance coverage, you may be able to recover the difference between the two with underinsured motorist coverage. In this case, let’s assume the other driver is carrying the minimum of $25,000 and you have underinsured motorist coverage in the amount of $100,000 per person. Assuming your damages are $100,000 or more, you could recover $75,000 from your insurance company. There are other off-sets that can come in to play, but the important fact is that you stand to recover at least the amount of your underinsured coverage.
You may also have medical payments coverage under your insurance which covers medical care. This is generally limited coverage, but when you’re facing mounting medical bills from someone else’s carelessness, any amount can help. Any payments you receive here will likely be subject to subrogation, where you’ll be required to reimburse the insurer if you recover any damages from the at-fault driver.
Unfortunately, many of these scenarios put you at odds with your insurance company. Too often, other drivers don’t carry enough insurance to compensate for the damage and injuries they cause. If that’s the case, you may be put in a position where you have to fight your own insurer to receive adequate compensation. At times like that, quality legal representation is invaluable.