How to deal with UIM insurance?

by Missy
(Sterling, IL)

My husband and I have been motorcycle riders for 30 years+. Its always been our freedom and we've always been very careful riders. Last month we were riding and were coming up to a curve when a car came around the curve towards us fishtailing out of control. The car started sliding sideways towards us in our lane.

Because of my husband's experience he made the split decision to go into the opposite lane and lay our motorcycle down to avoid hitting the car. My husband sustained road burns to his left forearm but refused treatment, and I was transported to the hospital with large road burns and deep abrasions to my left hand, forearm, and left knee.

They did x-rays, CT scans, and an ultrasound. The driver was arrested for not having a drivers license, no insurance, and driving too fast for current conditions. He is 20 years old. Thankfully we have uninsured motorist insurance, with limits of 50/100.

Since then we have experienced continuing deep body aches, pain and suffering, wound center care (for me), wound care at home, depression, anxiety (driving), memory loss, loss of family and friends activities, loss of our freedom (we will be selling our motorcycle after repairs), lost wages, loss of future employment, and future medical treatment.

Should we hire an attorney to negotiate with our own insurance company? What would be a reasonable settlement? Any helpful information would be appreciated. Thanks.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "How to deal with UIM insurance?":

Missy (Sterling, IL):

While every motorcycle accident is potentially life-threatening, fortunately, you and your husband sustained relatively minor injuries, including road burns and deep abrasions to the left hand, forearm, and left knee.

Filing an insurance claim with your own insurance company is referred to as filing a first party claim. This is to be distinguished from a third party claim, where the injured person pursues his or her claim with the negligent driver.

Your injuries, and those of your husband are referred to as "soft tissue" injuries. These injuries are to be distinguished from much more serious "hard injuries," which include fractures, head trauma, disfigurement, third degree burns, and similar serious injuries.

While your soft tissue injuries, lost wages, and future medical treatment may be taken seriously by your insurance company, the "depression, anxiety (driving), memory loss, loss of family and friends activities, loss of our freedom..." will likely not be.

This is because it is quite rare for a person's injuries in a relatively minor motorcycle or car accident to include the psychological trauma you described to a significant degree. It's a stretch, and you can be sure your insurance company will not take those injuries as immediately credible.

However, if you are able to obtain a mental health professional's (such as a psychologist or psychiatrist) narrative directly linking your depression and other issues to the accident, you may have a better chance of recovering compensation.

You can certainly consult with personal injury attorneys in your area. Most will not charge for initial office consultations. However, the amount of a settlement offered by your insurance company will likely amount to only about 2-3 times the amount of your medical bills, plus lost wages and related expenses. That type of settlement offer is meant to cover your pain and suffering.

Be realistic in your negotiations with the insurance company. Doing so will help to achieve a settlement which is fair.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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