Matthew B. Troutman
What happens when the at fault party does not have enough insurance to pay my auto accident claim?
A recent auto accident client of mine suffered a broken leg and shoulder among other injuries in an auto accident. His hospital bill was $143,000.00. He has no health insurance and the at fault party only maintained $50,000.00 in liability insurance. Like many car accident victims, this client faces the reality that there is not enough insurance to pay his claim. There is no magical fund provided by the government or anyone else that will come in and pay for his damages. The at fault person does not have assets to make up the difference and if the at fault party was pursued in civil court, he or she could file for protection in bankruptcy court.
The state of Kentucky only requires $25,000.00 in liability coverage.
I have been an auto accident lawyer for 34 years and the entire time that I have been practicing, the minimum required auto liability insurance has been $25,000.00. The legislature in Kentucky has failed raise the minimum. Most of the other states have similar laws and many require less than $25,000.00 in liability insurance. It is my understanding that nearly 80% of the people in Kentucky only have the minimum in liability insurance. Therefore, your chances of being in an accident with someone who has the minimum in liability insurance is high. In the case I described above, the at fault person has $50,000.00 in liability insurance and my client should consider himself lucky even though he has a $500,000.00 claim and will only receive 10% of his claim.
You can protect yourself from uninsured drivers and underinsured drivers.
The only way to protect yourself from uninsured drivers (drivers with no insurance) and underinsured drivers (drivers with some liability insurance but not enough to satisfy your claim), is to purchase uninsured motorist insurance and underinsured motorist insurance. These coverage are relatively cheap and are some of the best coverages to buy. When I see the recent tv commercials from Liberty Mutual about "customizing your insurance by selling you only what you need" I am concerned that uninsured motorist and underinsured coverage will be the first to be dropped. The premium savings are minimal and if you ever get injured in a car accident the financial impact will be devastating. Liberty Mutual makes it look like they are trying to save you money, but in the end they are setting you up for disappointment and protecting themselves from paying more claims.
My client that will only receive $50,000.00 for his $500,000.00 claim, declined underinsured motorist coverage when he purchased insurance for his vehicle and he lost thousands of dollars as a result.
It is time for you to check your policy to make sure you have uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage and at levels that protect you. If not, like my client, you are looking at large bills that you cannot pay and not being fully compensated for injuries that you deserve if you are ever invloved in an auto accident.