Lack of Insurance Question: Underinsured Motorist Causes Tragic Injury
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION:
A commercial vehicle hit me and tore my arm almost off, needing surgery. The adjusters are jerking me around saying the drivers limit is only $10,000 and I should take it. I was permanently injured, this is going to change my life and my family’s life drastically, and I don’t see how this air conditioning company only has a limit of $10,000. Can I sue the company?
Deciding to Settle or Press On is Always Your Decision
You can always settle a case and you always sue, regardless of the amount of insurance coverage. That decision is entirely up to you and should be made with advice of a lawyer. Whether a commercial business has assets to cover a lawsuit over their insurance policy is a question that is determined and discussed with our clients in advance after we run a background and assets check. Many times, a person or a business simply isn’t liquid, has limited to no assets and can simply bankrupt out of a judgment, so a $1,000,000 verdict means nothing except your lawyer spend may $10’s of thousands in costs to get a moral victory. Most attorneys won’t do that.
Insurance coverage issues, such as whether an individual or a business’s insurance carrier has financial exposure over that policy (called “bad faith”), whether a commercial entity is required to have more insurance, whether it was a tractor-trailer and an MCS-90 may provide surety, whether there are collectible assets and questions of liens are complicated and a diligent personal injury lawyer can answer those for you. We had a brain injury case similar to this and there is nothing more tragic than a tragic accident which not only destroys a life, but leaves a victim desperate. We open up other resources to clients and make extra-judicial recommendations.
Many of our clients are hurting, struggling and hoping they get better, but aren’t. You get one shot at recovery. Lawyers must make sure the insurance companies are acting fairly. John worked for eight years defending claims for these companies and big businesses and John saw many ways they use your desire to be fair and reasonable against people. He now solely works for injury victims like you.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Insurance carriers offer uninsured/underinsured medical insurance for that reason. You should buy it before you get into a wreck. It is very important coverage that we should all have in Florida. For instance, if someone was in a wreck with $10,000 insurance benefits, but had $100,000 of their own in UM/UIM coverage, they would be able to receive the full $110,000.
Part of the blame lies at Florida legislators for mandating such low minimums. Florida’s PIP / automobile insurance system is terrible. In fact, the average person is required to have $0 in coverage to cover another person’s bodily injury and a vast many people have just that- nothing. Meanwhile, Georgia requires a minimum of $25,000.
Select Your Injury Lawyer Carefully
While all lawyers are allowed to advertise and anyone can say they handle personal injury cases, you should choose carefully. Only Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyers are allowed to identify themselves as an “expert” or as “specialist” in this area. Certification is the highest level of recognition by The Florida Bar of the competency and experience of attorneys who handle these cases. You can check with the Bar to find these lawyers. Board Certification means the lawyer is known for trials- pushing beyond low offers by defendants, passing a peer review of fellow lawyers and passing a tough exam. They usually have a great track record of verdicts and settlements. They also may have won awards or acclaim in the profession. They have resources to get the job done. It is good to have a lawyer with all of the tools in their arsenal as insurance companies certainly consider these qualities when hiring their own lawyers.
Insurance carriers try to negotiate every dollar they can, because every $100 they save means millions in the end to their Board of Directors and sometimes bonuses to the team of adjusters and case managers handling cases for the insurance company. Attorneys matter. Defendants and their carriers change their game plan when an experienced lawyer is involved. For that reason – and the misinformation by TV lawyers and referral services- is why people should select lawyers carefully.
Also, make sure it is the lawyer who shows up to meet with you and not a mere investigator. You are hiring a lawyer and deserve their time. Most lawyers will charge the same fee, so you might as well get an experienced one. On that same note, many advertising lawyers these days are charging a lot of costs to cover commercials and overhead. We tell our clients that we are not Office Depot, so we are not in the business of charging you for ever piece of paper, pen, note pad and scanned item. Ask for your lawyer for sample closing costs. Some lawyers charge for faxes, phone calls, scanning, postage, “in house courier” charges and even interest in these charges.
Because of the economy, more lawyers are jumping into personal injury and should stick to what they know. Personal injury law requires knowledge about medical science and biomechanics (the forces on a body in a wreck or a fall), as well as the interplay of coverage and timely decision making, far greater and more specific than you’d think. The other side has doctors and millions of dollars on their side to say nothing is wrong or fight the claim. Research your lawyer wisely. Good luck.