When a driver with no insurance hits you, you have a settlement claim under the Uninsured Motorist coverage of your own car insurance policy. If you were a passenger in someone else’s car and you were hit by an uninsured motorist, the car owner’s policy will cover you under that policy’s Uninsured Motorist coverage.
The Big Mistake To Avoid in an Uninsured Motorist Claim
Most people have no idea what amount of money they are entitled to, under their uninsured motorist coverage, when hit by a driver without insurance.
As a result, they settle for a fraction of a full settlement amount. If you were injured by an uninsured motorist, be aware that you are entitled to full damages.
What Does Uninsured Motorist Insurance Cover?
Under your uninsured motorist coverage, you are entitled to be paid for
- Lost income
- Medical Bills
- Money for interference with life, including pain and suffering
Uninsured motorist claims are common. Many of the cases that come in have an uninsured driver who injured or killed an innocent victim. Most people are not aware of all the types of damages, and it is understandable why they could agree to a lower amount.
Of the three kinds of damages listed above, the general damages amount (for pain and suffering and interference with life activities) is the most difficult to estimate. Taking a low amount is the big mistake to avoid.
The declaration sheet for your automobile insurance will say how much the insurance company can be required to pay, so do not settle for a low-ball amount.
Many drivers have only a low amount of coverage. When you have a major injury or death caused by such a driver, you will want to make a claim under your own policy for the loss caused by the underinsured motorist.
An underinsured motorist claim is more complicated. To figure out your settlement demand, your attorney will get the declaration sheet for your policy, will determine the amount of liability coverage the other driver has, and will consider whether the other driver has assets beyond insurance coverage. Your attorney will inform you about this part of your case. For more information, visit the page on Under-Insured Motorist Claims.
Need to Make Written Demand
When you were in an accident with an uninsured motorist, there are steps in making your claim to a settlement. You will need to make the claim in writing, before the statute of limitations runs against you. In Oregon, the two-year time limit is set out in ORS 742.504.
ORS 742.504 (12)(a) The parties to this coverage agree that no cause of action shall accrue to the insured under this coverage unless within two years from the date of the accident:
(A) Agreement as to the amount due under the policy has been concluded;
(B) The insured or the insurer has formally instituted arbitration proceedings;
(C) The insured has filed an action against the insurer; or
(D) Suit for bodily injury has been filed against the uninsured motorist and, within two years from the date of settlement or final judgment against the uninsured motorist, the insured has formally instituted arbitration proceedings or filed an action against the insurer.
Formal institution of arbitration proceedings within the two-year limit may be done by the insured. Generally this is done by the lawyer for the injured party sending a letter that demands arbitration.
It is theoretically possible that a particular insurance policy does not have the two-year limitation, and instead the six-year statute of limitations for contracts would apply.
“… terms that disfavor insureds may be excluded or softened and extraneous terms that are neutral or that favor insureds may be added.” Vega v. Farmers Ins. Co. of Oregon, 323 Or 291, 302, 918 P2d 95 (1996). When the auto policy does not contain the two-year time limit from ORS 742.504 (12)(a) quoted above, the six-year statute of limitations for contracts (ORS 12.080(1)) will apply to your claim for UM coverage. N. River Ins. Co. v. Kowaleski, 275 Or 531, 534–35, 551 P2d 1286 (1976).
But a generous time extension by your insurance company, from two to six years, is not likely. So these claims should be presented well before two years runs.
This site has a category page with additional information about Uninsured Motorist and Under-Insured Motorist claims.
Coming Soon: No-Cost Guide to Settlement of Your Uninsured Motorist Claim
Click Above to Play Video
In process is a no-cost Guide to UM claims in Oregon, so you will want to call 800-695-5334 or send an email and ask for a copy. In the meantime, you can call the office (503) 221-2000 to set up a time to ask about how you go about getting a settlement. Usually it is best to start with a 15-minute phone call to help decide if you want to come in to the office to talk about your claim in more detail.