Insurance issues: Are you covered? What would happen to you in this case? Do you know?
A nice young man is a passenger in a car driven by his friend. The friend is driving recklessly and crashes the car. The passenger’s leg is broken in the crash and needs surgery.
I get involved to make a claim against the man for my client’s injuries.
The driver only has $15,000 in coverage. His insurance company immediately offers to pay the $15,000 because in court the injury is worth a lot more than that. I would figure that the injury is worth $75,000 or so under these facts. So, the insurer and the at fault driver is getting a good deal by paying only $15,000 for something worth $75,000. So, we consider the at fault driver to be underinsured.
Well, car crash lawyers know this situation as one with an UnderInsured motorist (UIM). Simple right?
Well, the first thing we do is cross our fingers and request the client’s insurance declaration page. Did he request or reject Underinsured Motorist Coverage? In this case, phew, he requested it in the amount of $15,000. Yay.
So, now what happens. Now, he can make a claim or file a lawsuit against his own insurance company to pay him under his underinsured motorist coverage policy. We make a demand against them and if they don’t compensate him fully, we sue them and claim that they promised to compensate him in this exact scenario, but are not living up to the contract.
Would you be covered here?
Look at your declaration page in your car insurance. It will say bodily injury coverage. That is for use when you injure someone else. Lower down on the page, it will say underinsured coverage $15,000/$30,000 or it will say rejected. That is our situation here. If you rejected it, I would suggest you change that in the future.
Pennsylvania law requires you to carry car insurance in case you hit someone. It does not require you to carry insurance in case someone hits you. So, basically, the law requires you to protect others in case you are negligent, but does not require you to protect yourself.
Pennsylvania law says your car insurer must OFFER you insurance coverage for UIM in an amount equal to the amount you carry if you injure others, but you can reject it pretty easily by signing a form. Did you reject this? Maybe you should check?