If you are in a car accident caused by an underinsured motorist in Arizona, you may be able to sue the responsible party for damages. However, the process of suing an underinsured motorist can be complicated and confusing, and it is important to understand what to expect as you navigate the legal system.
Suing an Underinsured Motorist: Why It Happens
When you get in your car and hit the road, you obviously want to avoid having an accident with another driver. If an accident does happen, you would probably assume that your insurance coverage and the other driver’s insurance policy will be enough to take care of any issues that arise.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Our Phoenix car accident lawyers know that some drivers on the road are underinsured motorists. This means that although they do have car insurance, their coverage amounts aren’t high enough to cover the injuries of everyone involved. There is a gap between what the insurance company will pay out and what you deserve for your pain, suffering and losses.
In Arizona, the minimum liability insurance requirements are $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for bodily injury and $15,000 for property damage. If an underinsured motorist causes an accident that results in damages greater than their insurance coverage, you may have to sue them for the remaining damages.
Holding an Underinsured Motorist Accountable in Arizona
The process of suing an underinsured motorist in Arizona begins with filing a claim with their insurance company. If the damages exceed the policy limits, the victim can then file a lawsuit against the underinsured motorist to recover the remaining damages.
It is important to note that Arizona is a fault-based state, which means that the person responsible for the accident is liable for the damages. In other words, if the underinsured motorist caused the accident, they are responsible for the damages that result. If they are not at fault, you will need to work with your own insurance company to get the help you need.
Hiring an Attorney
The first step in suing an underinsured motorist in Arizona is to hire an attorney. An experienced Phoenix personal injury attorney, such as one from Sargon Law Group, can help you navigate the legal process and protect your rights. Your attorney will gather evidence to support your case, such as witness statements, police reports, medical records and any other relevant documentation.
Once your attorney has gathered the necessary evidence, they will file a lawsuit on your behalf. The underinsured motorist will be served with a summons and complaint, which outlines the details of the accident and the damages you are seeking. The underinsured motorist will then have a certain amount of time to respond to the lawsuit.
Beginning the Discovery Process
The next step in the process is discovery. This is the time when both sides exchange information and evidence to build their cases. Your attorney may depose the underinsured motorist, meaning the attorney requests a formal interview under oath. Your attorney may also request documents and other evidence from the underinsured motorist and their insurance company.
Negotiating a Settlement
After discovery is complete, your lawyer may attempt to negotiate a settlement with the other driver and their insurance company. If the parties reach a settlement, you will receive compensation for your damages, and the lawsuit will be dismissed.
The case will go to trial if the parties cannot reach a settlement. You and your attorney will present your argument to the judge and jury, bringing in witnesses and evidence as needed. Then it is up to the judge or jury to decide if your position is valid and how much money you should receive.
If you are suing an underinsured motorist and win your case, you can collect damages from him or her. However, collecting damages after winning a lawsuit can be challenging. If the underinsured motorist does not have enough assets to cover the damages, you may have to wait to get your money or start a new legal fight to get the award paid out.
As a driver, you should know that this entire process can be very long and drawn out. The other driver and their insurance company will work as hard as they can to pay as little as possible. It can be a frustrating experience, especially if you need the funds to help make up for lost wages or cover medical bills due to the crash. This is why it is so important to have a lawyer you can trust, rather than trying to go it alone.
Taking Steps To Protect Yourself
While you can’t predict the moment a crash will happen and lead to you suing an underinsured motorist, you can take precautions to protect yourself. One of the best ways is by having extra insurance coverage. Some companies offer underinsured motorist coverage, which provides additional protection in case of an accident with a driver who does not have enough insurance to cover all the damages they caused. This can help pay for medical expenses, lost wages and other damages that exceed the limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.
Underinsured motorist coverage typically kicks in when the at-fault driver’s liability insurance limits are not enough to cover all the damages. For example, if the at-fault driver has a liability insurance policy with a limit of $25,000 per person, and you suffer $50,000 in medical expenses and lost wages due to the accident, you are financially responsible for the remaining $25,000. However, if you have underinsured motorist coverage, you can file a claim with your own insurance company to cover the remaining damages up to the limits of your policy.
Getting Help Suing an Underinsured Motorist
If you face huge out-of-pocket bills because another driver hits you and doesn’t have enough insurance to pay for the damage, a lawsuit may be your best course of action. If the thought of suing an underinsured motorist seems intimidating, remember that you aren’t alone. Call the Sargon Law Group for help with your case.