Many of us take car insurance for granted. But if your car is damaged or you are injured in an accident with an uninsured driver, you could be facing a long and complicated process before getting any money from your insurance company.
In New Jersey, if you are involved in an accident with another driver – and the accident is deemed to be that driver’s fault – you must first file a claim with that driver’s insurance company. Hopefully, that driver carries enough insurance to cover the full cost of your claim. If not, however, you will need to file an uninsured/ underinsured claim with your insurance company.
Once you file such a claim, your insurance company will consider several factors. The first is whether or not you were partially responsible for the accident. If your insurance company finds, for example, that you were 25% liable for the accident, the amount awarded to you will be diminished. A second factor is how much the other driver’s insurance has already paid you. For example, suppose you are in an accident that causes $16,000 of damage to your car, but the other driver is only insured for up to $6,000 in damages, which is paid to you by his insurance company. In this scenario, your insurance company would take the $16,000, subtract from it 25% (representing your liability in the accident) and then subtract the money that had already been paid to you by the other insurance company, leaving you an award of $6,000. From this, your insurance company would subtract your deductible before writing a check.
If you and your insurance company cannot agree upon a reasonable amount for you to be reimbursed, you have the opportunity to enter into arbitration. At the beginning of an arbitration process, you select (and pay for) your own arbitrator, and so does the insurance company. Together, those two arbitrators agree upon a neutral, third arbitrator. Those three individuals review the particulars of your claim, and a 2 out of 3 decision is considered binding on both parties.
If you have been involved in a car accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, you should have a qualified legal professional review your case. Give us a call at 973-324-9711 or contact us online and schedule a initial consultation to speak with a lawyer.