It is unfortunately the case that people are injured in accidents caused by uninsured drivers, underinsured drivers, or unidentified drivers. The good news is that there are options for accident victims to receive personal injury compensation in each of these situations.
There are important legal distinctions between each of these three types of claims, including how the claim is brought, who the claim is brought against, and how much compensation an accident victim is entitled to. Our personal injury lawyers have discussed ICBC personal injury claims where the accident is caused by an uninsured driver and ICBC personal injury claims where the accident is caused by an unknown driver (also known as a hit and run accident). Today’s post will focus on the third situation: personal injury claims where the accident is caused by an underinsured driver. What is an “underinsured” driver? In BC, it is mandatory for drivers to purchase third-party liability insurance to cover injury or damage claims arising from accidents they caused. An uninsured driver is someone who has no third-party liability insurance (despite BC laws which make it mandatory). An underinsured driver, on the other hand, is someone who has third-party liability insurance, but it is not enough to pay the full amount of a claim or judgment against him or her. ICBC Basic Autoplan insurance provides up to $200,000 in third-party liability coverage. So, for example, if an accident is caused by a driver who holds only Basic coverage and damages exceed the $200,000 policy limit, then that at-fault driver is considered to be an underinsured driver. An underinsured driver is personally responsible for damages that exceed their insurance coverage limits. In the example just provided, a common outcome would be for the accident victim to be paid out the policy limits by ICBC and then the accident victim would have to pursue the underinsured driver personally for the damages in excess of the $200,000 policy limit (the accident victim may also be able to claim against the Underinsured Motorist Protection scheme – see below for a discussion of “UMP” claims). Extended third-party liability coverage for serious personal injury or death BC drivers can purchase extended third-party liability coverage through ICBC, up to limit of $5 million (BC drivers can also purchase excess insurance from a private insurer so long as they have Basic Autoplan coverage with ICBC). However, depending on factors such as the severity of the injuries, extended liability coverage may not be enough to cover the full value of a claim, for example, if the accident was fatal or caused serious injuries such as a spinal injury, amputation, or a brain injury. There are many types of personal injury damages to which an accident victim may be entitled – for example, pain and suffering, the costs of future care, and past wage loss. If the accident victim is permanently disabled from working, their loss of income claim will likely be substantial – that aspect of the claim alone may be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Our personal injury lawyers have represented many clients with multimillion-dollar claims, so we know firsthand that an at-fault driver who purchased excess third-party liability coverage can still be underinsured. Underinsured Motorist Protection (“UMP”) claims Where damages exceed the at-fault driver’s third-party coverage limits, an accident victim may be able to claim for further compensation under BC’s Underinsured Motorist Protection (“UMP”) scheme. When a person insures a vehicle in BC or holds a valid BC driver’s licence, their Basic Autoplan includes UMP coverage. In other words, UMP coverage originates from the injured person’s own insurance. It covers the policy holder and all members of their household, while an occupant of any vehicle (other than their own) or as a pedestrian or cyclist. Basic Autoplan includes $1 million of UMP coverage. This is often not enough to compensate a person who has sustained serious injuries. For that reason, it is possible (and highly recommended) to purchase Extension UMP, in which case the accident victim would have access to a higher limit (a total UMP limit of up to $2 million, $3 million, $4 million or $5 million, depending on the coverage purchased). UMP claims are very technical, so if you believe the driver who injured you does not have enough insurance to cover your damages, contact us at 1-855-852-5100 to arrange a free initial consultation with one of our team of personal injury lawyers. Get legal advice and guidance if you are injured by an underinsured driver If you have been injured in an accident caused by an underinsured driver, contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at Bronson Jones & Company LLP for advice. We will guide you through the uninsured motor vehicle accident claims process and ensure that you receive all accident benefits and personal compensation to which you are entitled. There are 13 Bronson Jones & Company LLP locations in the Lower Mainland. All of our cases are handled on a contingency (percentage) basis and you don’t pay until we collect.