Think Again If You Think You Have Enough Auto Insurance
By Dean I Weitzman, Esq. on August 2nd, 2013
Vehicle accidents happen every day, often injuring people who have done nothing to contribute to causing the accident which has ensnared their lives. Victims are injured when other cars crash into their vehicles, or when others accidentally run them down on sidewalks or in a myriad of other tragic ways.
Yet learning after such an accident that one’s automobile insurance isn’t adequate to compensate them for a serious injury is one of the toughest things we have to discuss with our clients here at MyPhillyLawyer. It’s a relatively common scenario, and one that we’ve seen over and over again recently involving a spate of cases that have come into our doors.
A group of 8 or 9 young women were recently leaving a nightclub in Northeast Philadelphia early one morning when a fight broke out elsewhere in the crowd in the parking lot. A nightclub security guard tried to break up the fight and sprayed the crowd with pepper spray, which also got into the eyes of some of the young women, who were temporarily blinded and ran into the nearby street to escape the pepper spray.
Just then a speeding car went flying down the street and struck a group of the young women. The vehicle, which couldn’t be identified by any of the sight-impaired victims at that moment, fled the scene. Some of the victims were seriously hurt, but in such a case, the only way they will be able to receive compensation for their serious injuries is if they have adequate Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage in their households.
In a case like this one, if a victim is struck by a vehicle that is not identified, then the vehicle is considered under the law as a “phantom vehicle.” Injuries from such an event can be compensated by the victim’s Uninsured Motorist coverage and their own insurance company will pay them for the claim as if the insurance company itself had insured that phantom vehicle.
Yet if you only have $15,000 of state minimum UM coverage, that is the full amount that your insurance company would have to give to you under such a claim. And that is simply not enough coverage if your injuries are serious or catastrophic. In fact, this kind of scenario is exactly why every driver on the road in Pennsylvania and every other state really needs to do a careful review of their insurance coverage annually to be sure they are well-protected for potential injuries caused by others who are not adequately insured.
The minimum $15,000 liability requirement in Pennsylvania was set some 30 years ago and has not been changed since then, which is absurd. It’s a travesty of justice for working people who drive around thinking that they have adequate insurance coverage and then find out how wrong those assumptions can be when the unthinkable happens and they are injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver. When is our Legislature going to do something about this?
It was a whole different world 30 years ago when the $15,000 minimum coverage limit was established, and unbelievably, no provisions were ever created to increase that figure annually for inflation and for changing times.
Another coverage area where drivers often find they are underinsured is for medical expenses in the event of a crash. The minimum amount for coverage in Pennsylvania is $5,000, and that miniscule, inadequate amount is what most people carry to help keep their insurance premiums lower.
Uninsured Motorist coverage, and the related Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage, are actually the most important types of coverage that you can have for your vehicle, even more so than collision coverage. Collision covers the vehicle physically, but better protecting you as the driver – and your passengers – should be viewed as a smarter investment of your policy dollars. Drivers should look at raising their collision coverage deductibles so that they can afford to pay for higher UM and UIM coverage which will better protect them against another driver’s irresponsibility.
Drivers can possibly even save money by increasing their collision deductible (and lowering their costs for collision coverage) while still obtaining increased UM and UIM coverage of $300,000 per incident.
Yes, by raising your vehicle’s collision deductible, you are taking a known risk on having to pay more if your car is damaged, but the significantly higher UM and UIM coverages will protect you if God forbid you are seriously injured in a crash by another driver.
Not having enough UM and UIM coverage is a giant risk to take. Your life, livelihood, your work and your family can all be affected in an instant if you are seriously injured and are without adequate UM and UIM coverage. In the blink of an eye a family can have a catastrophic loss and if you don’t protect yourself, nobody else is out there to protect you.
Insurance is something you likely spend a lot of money on, right up there with mortgages or rent, food and other essentials. Don’t listen blindly to your insurance agent for their recommendations for such coverage. I’ve seen client after client get bad advice from insurance agents which then leaves them with inadequate coverage that will haunt them later when a tragic accident occurs.
If you suffer a life changing injury and can’t return to work after a crash caused by another driver who has inadequate insurance, your life and future can hang in the balance. The only way you can be adequately and fairly compensated after such an event is to have the highest amount of UM and UIM that you can afford. That can be accomplished without spending more on your existing policy by increasing your vehicle collision deductible, as I mentioned earlier. If you are going to take a chance, take the chance on the property damage. That’s better than having the unknown risk of having life changing catastrophic injuries and not having the money to pay for care.
These kinds of incidents and injuries happen every day when innocent victims are hurt in vehicle accidents through no fault of their own due to the actions or indifference of others.
That’s where having a legal team on your side that uncovers every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award is key.
We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a vehicle incident or accident anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.
Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.
When Winning Matters Most, Call MyPhillyLawyer.