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What happens if you are in a vehicle that is struck due to someone else's negligence, and that offending vehicle flees without being identified? This is an all too common occurrence. Absent a way to identify the tortfeasor, it is necessary to pursue what is considered a first-party claim (using the injured party's own insurance coverage), i.e., an uninsured motorist claim, in order to obtain compensation for a liability claim. In general, these claims are handled the exact same way a liability claim against a third-party is handled. That is, the attorney representing the injured victim will attempt to settle the claim once all bills, records and wage loss documentation is compiled and reviewed. If the claim doesn't settle, a lawsuit may be filed, although this type of lawsuit is actually considered a breach of contract action against the carrier. It should be noted that once the first-party carrier pays the claim, they may seek to subrogate against the at-fault party, if that party can be identified.
Uninsured motorist claim lawyer Roger Gelb wants readers to understand that, in his vast experience, and based on anecdotal evidence, uninsured motorist claims often settle for less than third party (paid by the adverse party's insurer) claims. One reason is that if a plaintiff's claim is worth in excess of the adverse party's limits (when there is adverse coverage), and it doesn't settle within those limits, it is possible to obtain an excess judgment (collect more than the actual limits of the defendant's policy). However, the recovery in an uninsured motorist claim is limited by the amount of the coverage, i.e., no excess judgment is possible (in all local jurisdictions).