Woodland Hills personal injury lawyer Barry P. Goldberg is considered the “go to” resource for all things “Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist.” In fact, Mr. Goldberg receives regular calls from lawyers throughout California regarding tricky and nuanced issues involving Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist claims. The reason that there is so much confusion is that the applicable statutes are not integrated and the law must be analyzed “piece meal.” Lawyers get bogged down on procedure. Insurers take advantage of the confusion. An accident victim probably needs an experienced Uninsured Motorist claim attorney.
Uninsured Motorist Law
The Uninsured Motorist Law is really not that difficult to understand and is found largely within Insurance Code §11580.2. The basics (with lots of exceptions!) is that if you are hit by a driver and vehicle that does not have valid liability insurance, you are permitted to make a claim under your own insurance policy—-provided that you purchased Uninsured Motorist coverage.
“Underinsured Motorist” coverage is a subset of Uninsured Motorist and is automatically included in your policy provide that you maintain Uninsured Motorist coverage. Again, “Underinsured” motorist is a relatively simple concept. If your Uninsured Motorist coverage is greater than the liability coverage of the person that caused your accident, then you first “exhaust” the available 3rd party policy by receiving payment. Then, the next dollar, up to the amount of your Uninsured Motorist coverage is considered “Underinsured” motorist coverage.
Uninsured Motorist Procedure
Uninsured Motorist procedure and “best practices” has become somewhat of a bear for many California personal injury lawyers. Most lawyers make it through either 1) proving “uninsured” in the case of Uninsured Motorist; or 2) “exhausting” 3rd party coverage in the case of Underinsured Motorist. Many lawyers, and consequently policy holders, get completely bogged down when a disagreement in valuation occurs. The law requires that an unequivocal demand for arbitration be made or that a lawsuit be filed within 2 years.
We have noticed a clear trend that insurers essentially ignore demands for arbitration and string cases, lawyers and insureds along. It is imperative that the insurer be compelled to 1) accept the case into arbitration; and 2) agree to an arbitrator to conduct a prompt arbitration. Needless to say, in order to force an insurer to do anything, competent and aggressive representation is absolutely required.