The Importance of Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

We have written prior entries in our blog about the importance of uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage. The importance of such coverage was underscored this week when we were contacted by clients who had been hit by driver of a stolen vehicle. This is a classic case where the at fault driver will not have insurance coverage. In this particular case the innocent victim caught up in this collision did not have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Obviously, the stolen vehicle had no insurance coverage which provided coverage for the thieves. Thus, we have a case where there is no insurance available to address our client’s medical bills and expenses. Because the medical bills are in excess of $500,000.00 and growing, obviously, the injuries attendant to such high expenses were extremely serious as well. The client will be permanently impaired for life. The tragedy is that had the client had uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, they could of at least had some measure of protection in this type of case.
The importance of this type of coverage arises in cases where the at fault driver has no insurance. Drunk drivers typically have no insurance. Teenagers joyriding in stolen cars have no insurance. People fleeing from the police at high speeds have no insurance typically. Drug addicts have no insurance and many people who are faced with today’s economic hardships let their insurance lapse and continue to drive. In short, there are a significant number of drivers on the road who (if they hit an innocent third party and cause an accident entirely because of their fault), will have no resources to provide coverage for the innocent victim. Therefore, the only way the victim can protect him or herself is to purchase uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage in advance, at the time they purchase their own liability coverage.
We would urge all members of the public to carefully review the Declaration page of their policies. We are all required by law to carry liability insurance on our vehicles. This coverage protects, the person that we injure through our own negligent acts. However, in circumstances where we are injured by the acts of a third party, unless we have uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage, we cannot protect ourselves from a case where the at fault driver has no coverage. As indicated by the case which was presented to us this week, this tragedy is compounded. When a person is seriously injured, permanently disabled for life and their life is utterly destroyed. They will never work again and if they are lucky enough to continue to live, they are going to be in need of medical care for the rest of their lives. And yet, there is no insurance anywhere to provide compensation for the innocent victim’s staggering losses. As lawyers, this is a very difficult situation because there is nothing we can do to help this person obtain recovery from the at fault driver. All that can be done in such cases typically is to make sure that the criminal authorities to put the offender in jail, but again, this provides little or no justice for the innocent victim and certainly no compensation for their injuries and damages.

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