Introduction by Candace Lightner, President, We Save Lives.org
Car crashes are so common that if we haven’t been personally affected by one or more, we know people who have. According to the Association for Safe International Travel more than 37,000 people die in road crashes each year, just in this country and an additional 2.35 million are injured or disabled.
The USA Coverage insurance website states that “According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, car crashes happen every minute of the day. Motor vehicle crashes occur in any part of the world every 60 seconds.” Those are frightening numbers and should make us realize how vulnerable we are and take precautions. Yet, how many of us really think a car crash will happen to us?
Six months ago I was involved in an auto collision and I can’t tell you how many people told me they too had been injured in a crash when I mentioned mine. It is like being pregnant, once you know you are pregnant, all of a sudden it seems like everywhere you go everyone else is pregnant. Some of us are fortunate that we can sue if the crash was someone else’s fault and there are justifiable damages but in many cases the other party has no insurance or only the minimum and we are left footing the bill, despite Personal Injury Protection, (PIP.) I constantly hear from victims that the driver had no insurance and the victim and survivor was left with no financial recourse. In my case, my car was totaled and I learned the hard way that buying another car is not a reimbursable expense. However, there is something you can do through your own insurance company that may help alleviate some of the financial burden when a crash occurs and the driver had no or inadequate insurance. I learned of this in a conversation with Stan Marks, Esq., a We Save Lives board member and a partner in Begam, Marks, and Traulsen law firm based in Phoenix, AZ.
The following is a guest blog written by Stan Marks, Esq.
As a lawyer who has been representing victims and survivors of road crashes, for more than 40 years, I understand all too well the pain of having to rebuild your life once a collision occurs, especially in the case of the death or serious injury of a loved one. This is made even more difficult when the at-fault driver is uninsured or has inadequate coverage. This is why I advise my clients to obtain not only uninsured (UM) coverage but also under-Insured (UIM) coverage as well.
Uninsured motorist applies when the at-fault driver has no insurance. If the at-fault driver does have some but it is inadequate insurance, then underinsured motorist coverage applies. In many states, underinsured motorist stacks on top of whatever liability coverage the at-fault driver possesses.
I represent many seriously injured motorcyclists, and I always ask them to make sure that their friends have adequate uninsured and underinsured coverage to protect themselves and their loved ones.
A few years ago, a new client (a Phoenix police officer) who was seriously injured in a Motorcycle crash thanked me for telling his friend to remind his friends to secure appropriate coverage. He just raised his uninsured motorist coverage from $15,000 to $100,000. The additional insurance provided him with the necessary coverage to compensate him for his injury. Without that coverage, he and his family would have been in dire straits.
Typically, you can and should purchase uninsured and underinsured motorist equal to your liability limits.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance applies if you are struck by a vehicle, even if you are not in the car when the collision occurs. Therefore, if you are injured by an at-fault driver while you are a pedestrian or on a bicycle, your uninsured and underinsured coverage should apply as well.
For instance, if you are sitting on your porch and a drunk and uninsured driver loses control of his vehicle and crashes into your house, your own uninsured coverage would become available to protect you and compensate you for your injuries.
Uninsured Motorist and Underinsured Motorist are important coverages to purchase. They are particularly critical if you are operating a motorcycle where the likelihood of serious injury is enhanced.
We have too many drivers who now drive with a cell phone glued to their ear, not to mention those who drive drunk or drugged or both. Uninsured (UM) and Under-Insured (UIM) coverages, though optional, are essential for the protection of yourself and your family.