Lugenbuhl has extensive experience in litigating coverage disputes and liability issues unique to uninsured and underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) claims. We are conversant with the UM/UIM claims process, and the steps necessary to bring each claim to a cost-effective resolution, either through negotiation, mediation, arbitration, or trial. We offer full-service UM/UIM coverage claims handling and representation from the first notice of a claim through the entire litigation and appellate process.
Lugenbuhl’s attorneys understand the inherent risk associated with UM/UIM claims, including the duty that insurance carriers owe to the insured claimant. This proficiency is important, as some jurisdictions have stringent rules regulating an insurance carrier’s timeliness in handling claims, particularly with first-party coverage, which can transform a simple claim into one with extra-contractual exposure. Moreover, our seasoned litigators possess the requisite skills to effectively defend insurers in a wide variety of issues that arise in the UM/UIM context.
UM/UIM claims can be a complex, technical area of insurance coverage and litigation, raising not only coverage issues, but also involving multifaceted and catastrophic damages claims even when the fundamentals of an accident are not in dispute. The nature of the UM/UIM coverage requires insurance carriers and their attorneys to take timely and aggressive defense steps. Lugenbuhl’s attorneys are experienced in the issues of evidence and insurance law, and work with the most knowledgeable experts when necessary, to provide their insurance company clients with an advanced defense strategy for UM/UIM claims. Lugenbuhl can guide its insurance carrier clients through each step in the process, or provide legal assistance at any point along the way. Our experience in UM/UIM matters includes the following non-exhaustive areas:
- Claim review and investigation: We review claims at first notice to our firm and frequently prior to litigation to perform a risk assessment and evaluate your company’s exposure to damages as early as possible in the process. We also work closely with the claims handler to monitor and timely evaluate the information received to ensure our clients stay in compliance with the strict requirements on UM/UIM carriers to avoid potential bad faith liability.
- Coverage issues: We evaluate and defend coverage issues raised by policy language; UM/UIM rejection forms; conflict of laws when multi-state jurisdictional issues are at play; stacking, ranking, and other insurance issues; and other coverage defenses.
- Litigation: Our attorneys are skilled at obtaining witness statements and testimony; discovering and evaluating defenses to liability such as potential pre-existing, intervening, or superseding causes of damage; deposing plaintiffs’ treating physicians and experts to expose or assess potential weaknesses; working intimately with defense experts (including independent medical experts, accident-reconstruction experts, rehabilitation experts, and economists) to determine the cause and extent of related damages; filing motions to dismiss meritless claims, including bad faith claims; and defending against each claim on the merits or, if applicable, minimizing exposure at arbitration or trial.