Don’t Rely on Unsafe Drivers to Protect You. Protect Yourself!
If someone crashes into your vehicle, you expect them to pay for the damage to your car and for any injuries you sustained. That seems fair enough. When someone breaks a safety rule, they should be held to account for the injuries caused by failure to follow that rule. In principle, that’s the way it should be. In practice, that doesn’t always happen.
All too often I’ve talked to folks who were injured in a car crash by either a driver with no insurance or one with a fly-by-night minimum policy. I always ask what insurance coverage the client might have just in case we need to use. I cringe when I hear the phrase “liability only.” That’s a big “uh oh” in a case with minimum insurance or none at all. If someone is driving without insurance or maintains a shoddy minimum policy, they are perhaps the most dangerous drivers. They can cause accidents and never be held responsible for it. Why? Because trying to get damages from a person with no assets typically results in frustration. Best case scenario, you somehow get a wage garnishment on the person’s meager wages, assuming they have one. Worst case, you get a judgment against them and they file bankruptcy.
If you find yourself in a position where you are injured by and uninsured or underinsured driver, don’t leave any stone unturned. First, look to your own policy to see if you have coverage for the accident. A lot of people do not know that even if you are injured as a pedestrian, your own insurance might cover you. Similarly, people also don’t know that if they have no insurance, they might be covered by a household member’s policy. Uncovering insurance policies that can pay for an injury is not always and easy task, but could be the difference between being fully compensated for your injury or being left to cover all of your bills. As such, you must make sure that you have an attorney who possesses the knowledge to uncover all possible avenues of compensation.
What else can you do? Don’t rely on a dangerous driver who is either driving illegally or has just enough insurance to keep them legal. You can and should protect yourself from these drivers. The typical policies come in the following formats: 1) $20,000/$40,000 or 2) $100,000/$300,000 or 3) $250,000/$500,000. The first number represents the maximum amount an injured person can recover, the second represents the maximum amount the insurance company is required to pay out if multiple people are injured.
Don’t even think about the first one if you want to be adequately protected. It rarely protects anything. Also, the difference in upping coverage from $100,000/$300,000 to $250,000/$500,000 is usually very minimal compared to the protection you are getting. Likewise, purchasing uninsured and underinsured coverage with these limits is essential and often dirt cheap to add on. You may even want to think about adding on a personal liability umbrella policy (PLUP) which will provide additional coverage to protect you, usually in the face of an injury you might have caused, but at times picking up where the uninsured/underinsured coverage leaves off.
The premium for that $20,000/$40,000 policy might look attractive because of how cheap it is. But you truly get what you pay for. The insurance companies who specialize in providing such coverage will typically do anything they can to get out of providing it, often hanging the insured out to dry.
When you are injured in an auto accident, the last thing you need to stress about is who will pay your hospital bills and make you whole again. By ensuring that you protect yourself with adequate coverage, you are taking control of your life and not leaving it in the hands of a dangerous driver.