Many car accident victims think they don't need an insurance lawyer if they only want what is fair. Unless you deal with insurance policies and coverage everyday it is very likely you do not know what is “fair,” and you do not know what the insurance company is obligated to pay under the policy. One good example: A recent opinion out of the 2nd DCA finding Allstate's argument that it was required to pay only $5,000 in uninsured (“UM”) coverage was wrong. Rather, the appellate court concluded Allstate was required to pay $25,000 to satisfy its obligation under the policy. That's a $20,000 difference. And one you, as a car accident victim, may not know you are entitled to. This is why, at Taylor, Warren & Weidner, we practice insurance law, why we represent only policyholders, never insurance companies, and why we never charge an initial fee or cost to sit down with you and explain your legal rights. Let us also explain what happened here with Allstate and its attempt to avoid its duty to pay the full $25,000 in UM coverage.
The insured, Amanda Shoeck, was injured when another car struck the vehicle her father was driving. The at-fault driver lacked sufficient insurance coverage to cover Ms. Shoeck's damages, so she sought recovery under an available UM policy that covered her. This is very purpose of UM coverage—i.e., to ensure you are covered in the event you are struck and injured by another driver who does not carry sufficient insurance, which is a common occurrence. Although Ms. Shoeck had $25,000 in UM coverage from Allstate, in an act of mathematical gymnastics, Allstate was trying to satisfy its obligation under the policy by paying Ms. Shoeck $5,000 only, arguing it was entitled to a credit of $20,000 that was available to Ms. Shoeck under a separate UM policy from GEICO. As a car accident victim, this might make sense to you. If you had $20,000 available in UM coverage from GEICO, maybe Allstate is only required to pay the remaining $5,000 of its $25,000 limit. This is the exact type of lack of knowledge insurance companies try to capitalize on because victims who do not have a lawyer looking out for their rights do not know how much they are truly entitled to under the policy. Here is what the court had to say about it:
Under Allstate's UM policy, if Ms. Shoeck's damages exceeded the primary insurer's payout, Allstate is required to pay the FULL policy limit of $25,000. Meaning, Allstate is not entitled to a credit from other available insurance. In this case, Ms. Shoeck's damages exceeded what was available to her under the at-fault driver's insurance. They also exceeded what was available to her under the available GEICO UM coverage. In the instance of either or both of these conditions, Allstate was required to pay Ms. Schoeck the full $25,000 in available UM coverage and Allstate failed to meet its duty under the policy by refusing to pay this amount.
Does this distinction make sense to you followers? If you feel confused by any of these calculations or unsure about what Ms. Schoeck was entitled to recover in this situation, or what you are entitled to recover if you, too, have been injured in a car accident, this is the very reason you need an insurance lawyer looking out for your rights and helping you navigate the often complex process of recovering what you are entitled to on an insurance claim. Just because you only want “what is fair,” does not mean you will get it. Insurance companies, like Allstate did in this case, often do not play fair and they may try to take advantage of your lack of knowledge or misunderstanding of your legal rights under the policy. Don't let an insurance company talk you out of $20,000 because you do not know it's what is fair under the policy. This is the reason our attorneys at Taylor, Warren & Weidner represent policyholders. To make sure the insurance companies pay what is fair. If you have questions about your coverage or what you are entitled to under an insurance policy, contact us. We never charge an initial fee or cost to sit down with you and explain your legal rights.
View the Shoeck v. Allstate opinion here.