Most people expect their auto insurance liability policy to cover them in the event that they are at fault in causing a crash that results in collision damage and/or injuries. What many people do not realize is that if they are injured in an accident and not at fault, they may need to use their own insurance policy to cover their injuries through their uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
Unfortunately, people usually find out about uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage when they are seriously injured in an accident and there is not enough coverage to fully compensate them for their medical bills, lost wages, and injuries.
In Virginia, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is automatically set at the same limits as your liability coverage. However, an overzealous insurance agent may try to save you a few dollars, often less than $50 a year, by reducing this coverage to state minimum limits.
Underinsured motorist coverage covers you when the at fault driver’s liability insurance is not enough to compensate the injured driver for all of the harm done. With state minimum limits of $25,000 and increasing medical costs, this happens frequently.
What are the benefits of UM/UIM coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage comes into play in many different situations. Whether the at fault driver simply didn’t have insurance, did not have insurance in the correct amount, ran from the scene of the accident and got away, or the at fault driver cannot be legally sued (like in cases involving police cars, ambulances, or fire trucks) uninsured motorist coverage will protect you.
Importantly, this coverage protects you when you are driving any motor vehicle, even your employer’s vehicle!
We recently settled a case in which our client was struck from behind when a tractor trailer pushed another vehicle into the tour bus he was driving. The accident was so violent that then entire bus moved and had nearly $100,000 in damage done to it. While his employer made sure to obtain plenty of liability and property damage coverage for the tour bus, the employer/trucking company obtained the absolute minimum policy for uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, leaving its drivers, including our client, to rely only on the coverage of the vehicle that struck him. Our client’s insurance agent sold him a policy with minimum underinsured limits as well. Luckily, we were able to work with the other four claimants involved in the accident and obtain a satisfactory result for our client.
While tractor trailers, commercial buses and commercial trucks are subject to larger minimum liability insurance limits, when something goes wrong with a tractor trailer, it is not uncommon for many people to be injured and the insurance coverage to be insufficient to fully compensate everyone.
Not everyone is able to get a good result out of a tough situation. Before you get back on the road, look out for yourself by making sure you have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage equal to your liability limits as other drivers, or your employer, may not be thinking of you when they purchase their own insurance coverage.
Hopefully, you will never be in a situation where you need to use this insurance coverage, but if you are, make sure you contact a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney to help you with your case.
Phelan Petty represents car and truck accident victims throughout Virginia. If you have suffered an injury in a wreck, we may be able to help. To schedule a free consultation with one of our Richmond-based injury attorneys, please call 804-980-7100 or fill out our contact form.