What to do if you are hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver

Posted by Al WelshansOct 26, 20230 Comments

According to the Insurance Information Institute, approximately 12.6% of drivers in the United States have no liability insurance. This percentage is even greater in Mississippi (29.4%) and the surrounding states of Tennessee (23.7%), Alabama (19.5%) and Arkansas (19.3%). In addition, individuals who are insured often carry the minimum liability limits which in Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, and Arkansas is only $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident.[1]   

Odds are, you or a family member will be involved in a wreck with an uninsured motorist or perhaps an individual with limited insurance coverage. If so, then we can help you recover from your automobile insurance policy's uninsured motorist provisions. 

Uninsured motorist coverage is important because it is designed to protect you, your family, and occupants of your car from injuries caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver.  Our firm strongly recommends to our clients that they carry this coverage in amounts at least equal to their liability coverage. 

All automobile insurance companies writing insurance in the state of Mississippi are required to offer uninsured motorist coverage. It can only be excluded if the named insured knowingly signs a waiver of coverage.

In addition, uninsured motorist coverage may not be limited to the amounts listed for the car you are in at the time of the wreck.  Mississippi case law has established that uninsured motorist coverages for various cars can be stacked or added together to provide additional coverage.

Uninsured or underinsured motorist cases can be very complex and involve complicated issues of law and fact. Failure to handle these cases the right way may limit the amount of coverage or cause your insurance company to deny coverage altogether. Our firm has extensive experience helping injured individuals recover from insurance companies for injuries caused by uninsured and underinsured drivers. 

We recently handled a case for a client who was driving a motorcycle when he was forced to lay his motorcycle down on the roadway to avoid a merging automobile. The at-fault driver had substantial insurance coverage which we recovered for our client. However, the driver's coverage did not cover all our client's injuries. As a result, we sought recovery under our client's uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance.

The client had five automobiles under one policy. Each of these automobiles had uninsured motorist coverage. In addition, the client had two children attending college with automobiles registered in their names and insured in their names under separate policies with the same insurance company. However, the insurance carrier denied that our client was covered under the policies of his two children. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi ruled that our client was covered under his children's policies in addition to his five cars. See Kroger v. GEICO, 3:19-cv-00050-NBB-JMV (N.D. Miss. April 28, 2020).

This was a unique case because one child attended the University of West Virginia and that child's policy was issued as a West Virginia policy. West Virginia law did not allow stacking of coverage. 

The court found that the West VirginIa policy was governed by Mississippi law, and West Virginia's anti-stacking provisions were against public policy and void under Mississippi law. See Kroger v. GEICO, 3:19-cv-00050-NBB-JMV (N.D. Miss. April 28, 2020). The court's opinion resulted in our client having a total of $2,050,000 in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. 

[1] Insurance Information Institute, Facts + Statistics: Uninsured Motorist, https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-uninsured-motorists