What Happens If You Get Hit By Someone Without Insurance?
In Colorado, automobile owners are required to carry sufficient limits of liability insurance when operating a car. The minimum requirements by law are:
- $25,000 for bodily injury or death to any one person in an accident;
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death to all persons in any one accident; and
- $15,000 for property damage in any one accident.
Statistics published by the insurance Information Institute describe approximately 16.3% of motorists are uninsured. If you are injured in an automobile accident by a motorist without insurance, you may be able to recover from your own insurance company provided you have uninsured motorist benefits (UM). UIM coverage takes place of the insurance for the at-fault party when they don’t have insurance.
Additionally, when the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance coverage you may, likewise, initiate a claim with your insurance company for underinsured motorist benefits(UIM). Under Colorado law, all insurance companies must provide UM/UIM coverage equal to the amount of your liability coverage for bodily injury unless it is rejected by the policyholder in writing.
Can I Pursue Uninsured Or Underinsured Motorist Benefits Even If I Am Not Driving My Car?
In Colorado, automobile insurers must include coverage for injuries “arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of a motor vehicle” caused by uninsured motorists, unless such coverage is rejected in writing by the named insured. See, C.R.S. § 10-4-609(1)(a) This type of insurance coverage is necessary to cover medical bills when you are involved in a hit and run crash, when the other driver flees the scene of the crash, or when you are injured while you are outside of your car. The Colorado supreme court has articulated a two-prong test for determining when injuries arise out of the use of a motor vehicle. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Kastner, 77 P.3d 1256, 1261-65 (Colo. 2003). The Colorado Supreme Court recently clarified whether a passenger in a motor vehicle involved in a road rage incident is “using” that vehicle for purposes of underinsured motorist coverage if he is injured after getting out of the vehicle to confront the driver of another vehicle. See, Boyle v. Bristol West Ins. Co. 2020COA102 The first prong focuses on the “use” of a motor vehicle. Id. at 1261-63. The vehicle’s use at the time the injuries were suffered must have been conceivable to the parties at the time of contracting and not foreign to the vehicle’s inherent purpose. Id. at 1262. As observed in Kastner, some motor vehicles may have conceivable uses beyond mere transportation; with respect to noncommercial passenger vehicles, the only conceivable use that is not foreign to their inherent purpose is used as a means of transportation. If the use is foreseeably identifiable with the inherent purpose of a motor vehicle, the next prong of the inquiry is whether the “use” is causally related to the claimant’s injury. In Metro. Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. v. Neubert, 969 P.2d 733, 735 (Colo. App. 1998) the Colorado Supreme Court held that the need for a motorist to leave his or her vehicle to assist other motorists in need of assistance after an injury-causing accident was a foreseeable event arising out of the use of the vehicle. Additionally, in Progressive Casualty Insurance Co. v. Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co., 53 P.3d 740 (Colo. App. 2002), the Supreme Court held that the storage of a spare tire is a use within the inherent purpose of an automobile. See also, Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co. v. McMichael, 906 P.2d 92, 94-103 (Colo. 1995) (determining that a road construction worker who was using his truck as a barricade while he sawed concrete barriers in the median of a highway some distance in front of his truck was “using” his vehicle as contemplated by the uninsured motorist policy where the vehicle had a factory-equipped overhead beacon and emergency flashers); Trinity Universal Ins. Co. v. Hall, 690 P.2d 227, 231 n.4 (Colo. 1984) (using a vehicle to sell food and drink was a conceivable use where the vehicle had been factory-modified for use as a catering truck and mobile refreshment stand); Titan Constr. Co. v. Nolf, 183 Colo. 188, 193-94, 515 P.2d 1123, 1125-26 (1973) (unloading and loading cement from a ready-mix cement truck constituted a use within the meaning of a liability-to-third-persons policy provision because such use was inherent in the nature of the vehicle); Kohl v. Union Ins. Co., 731 P. 2d 134 (Colo. 1986)(Transportation (including the loading and unloading) of hunters and their rifles was a conceivable and foreseeable use at the time an insurance policy was signed for a four-wheel-drive vehicle.)
Underinsured And Uninsured Motorist Claims Can Be Very Complex.
Underinsured Motorist Claims can be complex, especially when your insurance company denies your claim for benefits. Additionally, if you are pursuing uninsured motorist benefits, your insurance company may likely request that you obtain their consent to settle with the at-fault driver before you pursue an underinsured motorist claim. If you failed to comply with certain policy provisions, your insurance company could deny coverage. A thorough analysis of the policy and existing case law is necessary to investigate whether your claim was unreasonably denied and may require filing a lawsuit for judicial determination of entitlement to policy benefits. Each set of factual circumstances is unique. Mandelaris Law, LLC, has the resources to deal with accident cases involving complex underinsured motorist claims and the skills to deal with the insurance company to ensure full compensation for your accident-related losses, including first-party insurance benefits denied by your insurance company. Call (303)357-9757 to speak with an attorney free of charge today.