Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Claims
UNINSURED MOTOR VEHICLES
Irresponsible vehicle owners may fail to maintain the policy of insurance and let it lapse. Nebraska law, as well as most insurance policies, define an “uninsured motor vehicle” (UM) as:
(1) There is no bodily injury liability insurance or bond applicable at the time of the accident;
(2) There is bodily injury liability insurance or a bond applicable at the time of the accident but the insurer either (a) denies coverage or (b) is or becomes insolvent;
(3) The owner or operator of a vehicle is unknown and a person suffers injuries as a result of actual physical contact between this vehicle and the injured person or a motor vehicle occupied by the injured person; or
(4) The owner or operator of a motor vehicle is unknown and a person suffers injuries but there is no actual physical contact between such motor vehicle and the injured person or the vehicle they were occupying and: (a) the accident has been reported, as required by law, to the proper law enforcement authorities and (b) the facts of the accident can be corroborated by competent evidence provided by an independent and disinterested person and not by the injured person or any person occupying the injured person’s motor vehicle.
The third definition usually involves a “hit and run” accident. The fourth is usually referred to as an accident involving a “phantom vehicle” as there is no physical evidence on the vehicle to show a collision with another vehicle.
UNDERINSURED MOTOR VEHICLES
An underinsured motor vehicle (UIM) is a motor vehicle in which the liability policy limits are insufficient to compensate an injured person for their injuries and damages.
Nebraska requires almost all motor vehicle owners to carry a minimum level of bodily liability automobile insurance coverage. The minimum required is $25,000.00/ $50,000.00, which means $25,000.00 per person or $50,000.00 per accident. This means the most any one person could collect would be $25,000.00 despite what their claim is actually worth and the most an insurance company would have to pay, regardless of the number of persons injured, is $50,000.00. Liability coverage is to compensate an injured person, other than the owner or driver of the vehicle, for their injuries and damages. With the high cost of medical expenses and lost wages, $25,000.00 is usually not enough to fully compensate an injured person for injuries and damages sustained in an accident. While these minimums are very low although they are higher than that required by many other states.
Nebraska has a Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Insurance Coverage Act, which is found at Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 44-6401 – 44-6412.
To assist injured persons Nebraska requires insurance companies to include a minimum of $25,000.00 / $50,000.00 Uninsured (UM) and Underinsured (UIM) Motorist coverage for most vehicles insured in Nebraska. In addition, insurers are required to offer higher limits for UM and UIM coverage up to at least $100,000.00 / $300,000.00. UM and UIM coverage comes either from your own policy or, if you are a passenger in the vehicle that was not at fault, the policy insuring that vehicle. In addition, a passenger in this situation may also be entitled to coverage under their own policy as well. Nebraska does not permit “stacking” of UM or UIM coverage. For example, if there is $25,000.00 of UM coverage for the vehicle you were a passenger in and you have your own policy with $25,000.00 UM coverage, you can only collect $25,000.00; you do not get to collect under both policies. However, if your policy is for $100,000.00 you can then collect a total of $100,000.00. You would receive $25,000.00 from the vehicle you were riding in and an additional $75,000.00 under your own policy.
There are requirements under insurance policies and Nebraska law that must be met before you are entitled to money for a UM or UIM accident. In addition, some vehicles are, by statute or judicial decision, not defined as not being an uninsured or underinsured vehicle.
Contact Lapin Law Offices if you have been injured by an uninsured driver or if the liability limits are insufficient to fully compensate you for your injuries and damages.