If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident in Tennessee, there is a significant chance that the other driver does not have enough insurance coverage to compensate you for the damages and injuries you have sustained. Some estimates state that as many as 20% of all drivers in Tennessee are completely uninsured. However, even if the other driver is carrying the required bodily injury liability coverage, there is still a good chance that coverage will not be enough to fully compensate you.
In these scenarios, you may be able to pursue compensation from your own auto insurance if your policy includes uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. An experienced auto accident lawyer at Bordulis Law can help you navigate these claims and fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact me now so I can start working for you.
Your auto insurance policy contains many different types of coverage. Many potential clients will say they have "full coverage" on their auto policy, but many times that is not the case. For example, they may have comprehensive coverage for damage to their vehicle, but that is separate from coverage for injuries.
Tennessee law requires every driver to carry bodily injury liability and property damage liability.
Bodily injury liability is coverage for injuries sustained by others if you are liable for the accident. In other words, if your passengers or another driver are injured in a collision that you caused, your bodily injury liability coverage is available to them for their injuries. Tennessee law requires bodily injury liability coverage of a minimum of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. If someone is carrying this minimum required amount, that means that any one person can recover a maximum of $25,000, but the total available for the entire accident is $50,000. Thus, if more than 2 people are injured, there will still only be a maximum of $50,000 available to all injured individuals to split on a pro rata basis.
Property damage liability covers the costs of damage to the other driver's vehicle or other property damaged by the accident. Tennessee law requires a minimum of $15,000 in property damage liability.
UM/UIM coverage is one of the most important single pieces of insurance coverage that you can have. It is coverage that you purchase on your own auto policy that protects you and anyone else in your vehicle from injuries or damages caused by another driver who is either uninsured, or who does not have enough coverage to compensate for your damages and injuries.
If you do not have UM/UIM coverage, and the other driver is uninsured, you will likely be left without recourse for your injuries and damages. Also, even if the other driver has $25,000 in bodily injury liability coverage, that is unlikely to be enough to compensate you fully, especially if you have serious or significant injuries.
Importantly, you should review your current auto policy to ensure you have UM/UIM coverage, as Tennessee law allows for individuals to waive that coverage in writing. Many people decide to waive the coverage in an attempt to save money, but waiving this coverage is a big mistake. Sometimes insurance agents pressure people into waiving this coverage. You should never waive or opt out of UM/UIM coverage. Doing so can cause devastating consequences to you and your family should you be injured in a collision.
When selecting the amount of UM/UIM coverage on your policy, I encourage all my clients to have as much coverage as you can comfortably afford. There are multiple reasons for this. First, as established above, if the other driver is uninsured, your UM/UIM coverage is all you will have to cover your damages. If you had to choose between having too much coverage, or not enough coverage, the choice is clear.
Second, Tennessee law allows insurance companies to reduce or offset the amount of UM/UIM available under their policy by the amounts recoverable from the bodily injury liability coverage of the other driver. Thus, if you have $25,000/$50,000 in UM/UIM coverage on your policy, but the at-fault driver has $25,000/$50,000 in bodily injury liability coverage, your UM/UIM coverage can be reduced to $0. Because of this fact, and the fact that most other drivers are likely uninsured or insured for the minimum limits, you should always assume that the total amount of your UM/UIM limits will be the total amount available to you for injuries and damages sustained in a car accident.
The accident attorneys at Bordulis Law can help you fight for your rights, whether against the other driver or your own insurance company. Contact me now at (615) 541-2321 if you or a loved one have been hurt in an automobile accident.