"The other driver hit me, but their insurance company will not pay. What can I do?"
More and more, I am seeing cases where the insurance companies are denying a claim, or taking more than a month (sometimes a lot more) to determine if they will accept liability for a claim. This can be for a number of reasons, but they fall into a few straightforward categories.
1) The other driver failed to pay their insurance and let it lapse. If an insurance company is telling you that they have no coverage because the policy has lapsed, you will want to seek a good attorney right away. Sometimes the insurance companies do not follow the proper procedures for notifying their insured that the policy is lapsing. There are statutes on this issue, but the insurance statutes as a whole are rather lengthy and complicated. A qualified attorney can help determine if there may still be coverage. If not, that means you need to go after the individual who hit you, or your own UM/UIM insurance coverage (if you have it). The individual may not have anything to take to recover your damages. They may run to other states or simply avoid the situation altogether. If you get a judgment you can take their driver’s license away, but in the end the at fault party may be a dead end for recovery. This is why it is crucial to have UM/UIM coverage on your policy
2) The driver of the vehicle was not listed on the policy for the vehicle. This gets into some rather complicated scenarios where friends or significant others will lend their vehicles to someone else who runs you over. There are some policies that specifically prohibit anyone else driving the vehicle. They will not cover any losses unless the insured is the driver. Some insurance companies delay the process and attempt to avoid liability claiming the vehicle the insured was driving was not their own. Thankfully, Tennessee law states that the policy follows the insured, even in someone else’s vehicle. There are of course exceptions that will void coverage.
3) The insurance company has decided the collision was the result of someone else or that the parties share equal fault. Tennessee does have comparative fault, meaning your damages will be reduced by the percentage of your own fault. Sometimes this is a small contribution, and sometimes the parties are equally to blame. If a jury finds 50/50 fault, you cannot recover any of your losses. However, this is not a decision for the insurance company alone. An insurance adjuster is not the jury and cannot make such a proclamation. If they try to make such a claim, you should immediately contact counsel to discuss your claim.
No matter the reason, if an insurance company is dragging their feet, or flat out refusing to pay for your losses, you should contact an attorney for free consultation to better understand your rights. Almost every attorney takes these cases on contingency fee basis (you don’t pay up front) so there is no reason not to call someone.