If you’ve been injured in an automobile collision, your medical bills will add up quickly. This is especially true if you are still treating. If those medical expenses exceed the other person’s insurance limits, are we letting the at-fault driver off the hook if we settle for their policy limits? We are not.
The Kentucky state minimum in insurance is $25,000 per person. This means as long as someone has $25,000 in insurance coverage per person, they are driving lawfully. What it does not mean is that they have enough insurance to cover your medical bills or your claim for pain and suffering. So, can I sue the at-fault driver and refuse to accept the settlement of $25,000, their policy limits? The answer is “Yes” but, I don’t recommend it. Read further to understand why.
If you sue someone, you are trying to get a judgment against them and then collect on that judgment. Well, if a person does not have any assets such as real estate and bank accounts, how are you going to collect on that judgment? The clear answer is you won’t. As the old saying goes, you can’t get blood from a turnip.
So, instead of trying to sue someone beyond their insurance coverage, the better route is to put your insurance company on notice of an underinsured motorist claim. In a recent case I am handling, I found $50,000 of underinsured motorist coverage that applies to the claim.
After I comply with a legal procedure known as Coots, see KRS 304.39-320, and your insurance carrier consents to you accepting the $25,000 offered by the at-fault driver, your insurance carrier acts like they insure the at-fault driver for another $50,000, in the case I am presently handling.
By filing the underinsured motorist claim, we have the ability to recover more dollars, beyond the $25,000, on your behalf. Your insurance carrier, not you, will bear the burden and expense of suing the at-fault driver to recover any funds they pay out to you.
No one plans to get into a car wreck. The results often complicate our lives in ways we never imagined. While settling for the at-fault driver’s policy limits, even when your medical bills exceed that amount, it doesn’t mean we are letting the at-fault driver off the hook. As an experienced automobile accident attorney, I highly recommend you review your auto insurance policy to make sure you and your family members have enough uninsured and under insured (UM/UIM) coverage. It’s a step you can take to make sure you’re protected when the unexpected happens.
If you’d like to listen to my podcast episode explaining Uninsured and Under Insured Motorist Coverage, click below:
I’m attorney Jim Desmond. If you would like to speak with an experienced car wreck attorney, call me on my cell phone. My number is (502) 609-7657. I’ll be happy to listen to you about your specific situation.
Principal office located in Louisville, KY.
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