New Jersey roads are some of the most congested in the country. That, coupled with distracted driving and “road rage”, can be a recipe for disaster on NJ roads and highways. Automobile accidents can happen at any time and to anyone, especially when it is least expected. There is no good time to be involved in a car accident and it is always inconvenient. Auto accidents are frustrating, especially if you or a loved one is injured. To make matters worse, what happens if you are a victim of a car accident and the other driver had minimum insurance coverage, or worse, no insurance coverage at all?
New Jersey UM and UIM Claims
After an accident, your car is damaged. It may be totaled. A car can be replaced. You or a family member or friend may be injured. Who will cover the costs to repair or replace your car, pay for the medical bills, and compensate you for your injuries? At this point, you should consult with a NJ Injury Lawyer who can explain the process and applications necessary for the insurance companies to cover your claims.
Uninsured Motorist insurance (UM) covers you in the event another driver without insurance causes your injuries. New Jersey law requires all vehicles to have insurance. However, many drivers have their insurance cancelled if they do not make the monthly payment, or it was lapsed and not renewed. UM coverage is available to you in NJ when there is no insurance on the car that hit you. It also applies when you are involved with a hit-and-run vehicle or phantom vehicle that leaves the scene and cannot be located after the accident.
Underinsured Motorist insurance (UIM) covers you when the other driver involved in an accident has insufficient coverage to cover you for your personal injuries. New Jersey state law requires a minimum coverage of $15,000 for personal injury coverage in an accident. If you are seriously injured in a car accident, this minimum coverage may not be sufficient to compensate you for your injuries.
If the driver who hit you has an insurance policy that cannot cover your damages from the accident, you can file a claim for UIM benefits under your insurance policy. IMPORTANT: your UIM claim is limited to the coverage amount that you selected when you purchased your own auto insurance policy. In other words, if the driver who hit you has insurance coverage that is less than your coverage, you may be able to file a claim for UIM benefits under your policy.
For example, if the other driver’s car has only $15,000 in insurance coverage, and your own insurance policy has $100,000 coverage, you can file a UIM claim in NJ under your policy for an additional $85,000 to compensate you for your personal injuries. Since UM/UIM insurance is mandatory in New Jersey, a claim should not affect your own insurance rates.
Professional Tip for Buying Auto Insurance in NJ
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist coverage is available for your benefit. Your UM/UIM claim is limited to the amount of coverage you select when you buy your insurance policy. If you opt for the minimum amount of $15,000 coverage, this is the most you can recover from your insurance on a UM Claim if the other driver is uninsured.
Also, if you select a minimal coverage limit for your policy that is less or equal to the amount of coverage to the car that hit you, you will not be able to be able to file a UIM claim. You can only file a UIM claim if your auto policy provides for higher coverage than the car that hit you. Therefore, it is in you and your family’s best interest to select full coverage in order for you to receive compensation if you are seriously injured in an NJ motor vehicle accident.
If you or a loved one is involved in a NJ car accident, you should contact an attorney familiar with handling these claims. Please see my NJ Car Accident Checklist if you are in an accident. Remember to notify your insurance company immediately about the accident. Do not sign anything or settle with the other insurance company – it can bar your UM or UIM claim.
My NJ Injury Lawyer Howard P. Lesnik, Esq. offers free strategy sessions to address any issue or questions you may have about filing a UM/UIM Claim.
Please contact NJ Injury Lawyer Howard Lesnik, Esq., immediately if you were involved in a NJ car accident. I personally handle NJ personal injury cases on a regular basis. Please contact me now by email, by phoning 908.264.7701, or by completing the form to the right to schedule your complimentary 30-minute strategy session.