“I was in a collision, hurt my back and now need surgery that will cost $78,000.”
This is almost word for word a phone call our law firm received recently. We consulted with the client and determined that the driver at fault only carried a policy of ONLY $50,000. Fortunately, she has UM/UIM (uninsured/underinsured) motorist coverage well above that amount, but it may still not be enough. Without her uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, she would likely have been stuck with tens of thousands of dollars in medical care. Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance is an inexpensive buffer against the worst-case scenario of being stuck with a bill for medical care stemming from an auto accident that was someone else’s fault.
It’s hard not to sound like an insurance agent when you recommend someone buying underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage, but I still do it every day. I do it because I’m trying to save that person an expensive life lesson. We get calls every day from people who were hit by an uninsured driver, or a driver that caused a severe collision that they doesn’t have insurance to cover. If this happens to you, and you don’t have underinsured motorist coverage, there is a very low chance you will recover any sort of net compensation at all, and almost no chance you will get what you’d be entitled to should enough coverage be present. It’s hard to have the conversation where I tell a potential client the biggest value I can add in their case will be to negotiate down their medical bills. Many of these people end up in debt for years or even have to file a bankruptcy for a car accident they didn’t cause.
“I’m a good driver. That won’t happen to me.”
This is usually the first response I usually hear. Most of my clients are good drivers that got rear-ended when someone behind them wasn’t paying attention. You can be the safest driver in the world and still get injured in a vehicle accident.
“But, the chances of that are so low it’s not worth it to buy.”
This is another response I commonly hear. Are the chances that low? The Insurance Research Council estimated in 2012 that over 16% of all drivers in Washington were uninsured. That figure doesn’t even touch on how many are just carrying minimal limits that can sometimes be inadequate. You don’t want to wait until you’re in a collision to learn this lesson – by then it may already be too late.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ashton Dennis is a litigation and trial attorney at Washington Law Center focused on representing individuals and families who have suffered a serious personal injury or wrongful death. He was named one of the “Top 40 Under 40” by the National Trial Lawyers of Washington State and one of the “Premier 100” trial attorneys by the American Academy of Trial Lawyers in Washington. Click here to learn more about Ashton.