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VA Car Wreck Victims May Benefit from New Underinsured Motorist Law

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When a victim is involved in a car wreck in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, or anywhere else in Virginia (VA) and the at-fault driver has less insurance than the person they seriously hurt, the victim is able to receive compensation through “underinsured motorist” coverage (aka UIM insurance). However, a loophole in the UIM law allowed underinsured policy providers to drag cases on and force the liability insurance carriers to pay to defend a case even though that insurance carrier has already offered the maximum amount of liability coverage and there is no contest to who is at fault in the car wreck.

A recent amendment was made to the Virginia statute (i.e. Virginia Code §38.2-2206) to help close this loophole. Here is an excerpt of the statute:

“If the liability insurer or insurers providing coverage to an underinsured motor vehicle owner or operator make an irrevocable offer in writing to pay the total amount of liability coverage available for payment…the insurer or insurers providing liability coverage shall be relieved of the cost of defending the owner or operator incurred…including expenses as well as reasonable and necessary attorney fees, and the insurer or insurers providing the underinsured motorist coverage shall reimburse the liability insurer or insurers for the costs to defend the underinsured motor vehicle owner or operator to the date of the underinsured motorist insurer’s offer of its limit of coverage.”

Essentially, this means that once the primary liability insurer has fulfilled its duties, the underinsured policy provider is now required to cover the costs of any on-going litigation. The goal of this amendment is to appropriately shift costs onto the UIM policy provider and potentially resolve claims faster, which usually means victims receive compensation sooner. To learn more about what you need to do if you are seriously hurt by an underinsured, or uninsured, driver download our free consumer report written by VA injury lawyers who have handled numerous cases involving uninsured and underinsured at-fault drivers.

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About the Editors: The Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.