It is not surprising that personal injury lawyers have a less than perfect reputation. Every time you turn a television on, you see television commercials promising “big checks” or ”making the other guy pay.” However, those ridiculous slogans are not really what personal injury law is all about.
The legal system only allows you to recover money for the damages you have suffered because of someone else’s negligence. If you think about it, a truly fair system would require that the at-fault driver help you get your car fixed, pay the cost of replacing your vehicle and not just what it was worth and assist you in getting to your doctor’s appointments.
However, if personal injury law required those things, the system would be very similar to the laws governing divorce and family law. There would be a lot of fighting among strangers over who did what, why an appointment was reasonable or not and a lot of excuses as to why somebody failed to do what the Court ordered them to do.
Protect Yourself From A Flawed, Legal System
You have to plan for the absolute worst-case scenario and purchase, on your own car insurance, the coverage you need to handle a car wreck.
Assume for instance your vehicle was hit by an unemployed, drunk driver that resulted in you being hospitalized from a car wreck. The drunk driver had no insurance, was driving another person’s vehicle that was also uninsured. Finally, you don’t have health insurance to pay your medical expenses. This sounds pretty bleak.
Think about the true effects of this worst-case scenario. The person that hit you has no insurance to pay for the damages they caused. If you get any money out of them at all, it is likely to be small amounts generated over prolonged litigation. Further, you did not have health insurance so doctors, hospitals and chiropractors are hesitant to treat you because they don’t know if you will be able to pay your medical bills.
The common misconception about personal injury law is that the other guy will be responsible for paying my medical bills and as illustrated above. This idea is 110% wrong.
Further, when a car wreck happens, it is like a photograph was taken. You can’t remove anything from that photograph and you can’t put anything in it. If you don’t have the right coverage on your own automobile insurance before the car wreck occurs, you are out of luck!
So What Could You Do?
On your own car or motorcycle insurance, without any regard to what insurance the other driver may or may not have, carry at least $100,000 per person of uninsured motorist coverage, $100,000 of underinsured motorist coverage and $30,000 of no-fault or med-pay coverage.
This legal advice applies from the first day you drive a motor vehicle. Further, even though motor vehicle law differs by states, it really does apply no matter which state your vehicle may be licensed in. Ask your local insurance agent whether they agree with my advice but I would guess 90% of them will.
So yes, tell every member of your family and your extended family, wherever they may live, about this advice in regard to car insurance and/or any motor vehicle they may own, including motorcycles.
But It’s Too Expensive
While I understand that car insurance is costly, I refuse to lower my uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in an effort to save on my car insurance premiums. My 17 year-old daughter just got added to my insurance policy and it added about $2,200 a year to the cost of my insurance. Nevertheless, I want to know that if the worst-case scenario should ever occur, I have the means of obtaining medical treatment for my family and recovering my out of pocket expenses for permanent treatment for medical conditions that I thought would never occur.
While I understand that you may think the worst-case scenario won’t happen to you, remember that my law practice is a small, boutique firm that encounters uninsured and underinsured motorists on a daily basis.
Consider The Statistics
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, about 11.5% of Kentucky motorists and 16.7% of Indiana motorists are driving around uninsured at any given time.
Also, while Kentucky and Indiana require a motor vehicle to carry at least $25,000 per person of liability coverage, some states, Florida for example, require as little as $10,000 of liability coverage per person. Either way, how can $10,000 or $25,000 cover medical bills of $30,000 from a surgery caused by the negligence of another driver much less your lost wages, co-pays or insurance deductibles?
If you ever read one of my previous blogs, you might say that you have heard this advice from me before and it would be true. However, right now, I am dealing with:
- 3 cases wherein the at-fault drivers were completely uninsured
- 2 cases wherein I am searching for underinsured motorist coverage because the client’s Emergency Room treatment alone exceeded $25,000
- 1 case wherein an unexpected surgery occurred and luckily underinsured motorist coverage was on my client’s policy
- 1 case wherein the client did not recover the full value of her claim because the at-fault driver injured multiple people and there was not any underinsured motorist coverage to pursue.
My point being the worst-case scenario happens every day in both Indiana and Kentucky and saving a couple hundred bucks on car insurance now, can cost you thousands later on.