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David Mittleman
David Mittleman
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Injured by a Hit-and-Run Driver? Uninsured Motorist Benefits May Protect You

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Last week I wrote about a nightmare scenario: You’ve just been injured in an auto accident, and the at-fault driver leaves the scene.  Thankfully, in Michigan no-fault auto insurance benefits are available to nearly everyone to help defray the economic losses of medical expenses, lost wages, and payment for household services.  But what about compensation for non-economic losses like pain and suffering, impairment, disability, and more?

If you’ve protected yourself with Uninsured Motorist Coverage through your auto insurer, you may still have a claim for your injuries.

What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

Uninsured Motorist Coverage is an optional coverage you can choose to purchase from most auto insurance carriers.  For a small additional premium, Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage can protect you against non-economic losses if you are injured by a driver who was not insured at the time of the crash.  In most cases, UM coverage also applies if you are struck and injured by a hit-and-run vehicle.  Basically, your auto insurance company will stand in the place of the uninsured or unidentified driver.  UM coverage is similar to Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage, and they are often sold and purchased together.  UIM coverage applies when the at-fault driver does have auto insurance, but not enough to compensate you for your injuries.

What are Some Requirements of UM Coverage?

Because UM coverage is optional (unlike personal injury protection coverage, which is required by Michigan law), the terms of your specific insurance policy determine how, when, and how much you can recover in benefits.  Here are some common requirements:

  • If an unidentified vehicle causes your injuries, many policies require actual contact between you, your vehicle, or another object and the unidentified vehicle.
  • Some policies require that you give notice to the insurance company that you intend to file a UM claim within a certain time period, which may be very short.
  • Almost all policies require that you suffer a “threshold injury,” which in Michigan means death, permanent serious disfigurement, or serious impairment of body function.
  • For UIM coverage, the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limit must be exhausted, and your own UIM carrier usually must give you written permission to accept a settlement offer from the at-fault driver.

Remember, these are just some examples of requirements in typical UM policies.  It is important to read and understand your specific policy to know about your coverage.  A lawyer can help you with this.

Don’t wait until after a car crash to find out if you have UM and UIM coverage!  These coverages are usually very inexpensive and can help protect you and your family if you’re injured in a motor vehicle collision.