Rakin, Justin, and I take great pride in helping our clients rebuild their lives with dignity after suffering an injury or losing a loved one due to no fault of their own. On a very practical level, our ability to do so is controlled by the amount of insurance available to compensate our clients.
Having practiced personal injury law for 37 years, I have seen a steady increase in the seriousness of the injuries suffered and those killed, along with an increase in the cost of medical care. At the same time, I have seen an increasing number of cases in which our clients are not fully compensated because of insufficient automobile insurance limits.
Several very serious injury cases and several death cases we are currently handling have brought this point home, as the lack of sufficient insurance has resulted in our client or their families not receiving the compensation necessary to move forward with their lives. Regrettably, adding further insult to injury. As we have written about before, in a personal injury claim arising from a car accident, two types of automobile insurance are involved.
First is the liability limits of the policy covering the at-fault driver, and second is the uninsured/underinsured (UI/UIM) limits of the injured client. It is hard to believe or understand, but In Virginia, liability insurance is not required, and the minimum limits are currently only $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident. (Fortunately, as we have written about before, these minimum limits increase to $30k/$60K on January 1, 2022).
That means that each of us is at risk of being hit by a driver with no insurance coverage or with limits as low as $25k.
Of course, none of us control the insurance limits of another driver, and generally, drivers with bad driving records have low coverage limits due to cost. Fortunately, the amount of uninsured/underinsurance limits that we choose to carry gives each of us the ability to better protect our families and ourselves in the event we are involved in a crash. This is because uninsured/underinsured coverage provides additional coverage equal to the difference between the negligent driver’s liability policy limits and your uninsured/underinsured limits.
For example, if the negligent driver has $25k/person in liability limits and you have $100k/person in uninsured/underinsured limits, you would have a total of $100k available in compensation. In the same example, if you had a $300k/person UI/UIM limit, you would have a total of $300k in insurance available for compensation. For those with good driving records, the annual cost between a policy with $100k/person UI/UIM limits and $300k/person UI/UIM limits is nominal given the amount of additional coverage it buys.
So as a clarion call to each of you, to better protect yourself and your family, please review the uninsured/underinsured limits on your automobile policies now, speak with an experienced insurance agent for advice, or call me to discuss as I am happy to address any of your questions.
Be well. Tom.
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