NO VICTIM GETS RICH FROM AN AUTO ACCIDENT
It is a commonly held and often-repeated idea that people who are injured in an auto accident can get a lot of money from the wrongdoer’s insurance company. That notion is totally false, and I will tell you why.
Texas law only requires that drivers have $30,000 in liability coverage on their automobile policy. That means, for 99.99% of victims, no matter how severe their injuries are, and no matter how much damage they suffer, the most money available to compensate them is $30,000. Only a small percentage of Texas drivers carry more than $30,000 and even worse, there are a lot of Texas automobile drivers who have no liability insurance at all.
If the victim must hire a lawyer to pursue the claim and agrees to pay a contingent fee of 1/3, and the negligent driver has $30,000 policy limits, the victim starts off with only $20,000 available and case expenses in small clear liability cases run from $500 to $1,500.
Subrogation lets the entity that paid for the victim’s medical expenses (private insurance, ERISA insurance plan, Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, hospital lien, etc.) get reimbursed out of the victim’s recovery before the victim gets a penny. A victim cannot settle his or her case without first paying of the subrogation lien. The injured victim’s lawyer can usually negotiate with the subrogee and get the lien reduced but it is still an addition factor that affects a victim’s possible recovery.
The victim of an auto accident is fortunate if the negligent driver has a large policy limit for liability (UIM) coverage, or if the victim him or herself has an auto policy with Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage. In these situations, the victim stands a better chance of being made whole (being compensated for all damages: medical expenses (past and future), loss of earning capacity (past and future), physical impairment (past and future), and physical pain and mental anguish (past and future).
I am amazed at how few people in Texas have uninsured/underinsured (UIM) insurance protection. It is the only real way a person can be protected if they sustain serious injuries in a car wreck. UIM coverage is very cheap and you can buy as much UIM coverage as you have in liability coverage. For example, if you have $300,000 in liability coverage, you can get $300,000 in UIM coverage.
HOW CAN TEXAS DRIVERS PROTECT THEMSELVES SO THAT IF THEY SUSTAIN SERIOUS INJURIES IN AN AUTO ACCIDENT, THEY GET ADEQUATELY COMPENSATED FOR ALL THEIR LEGALLY ALLOWED DAMAGES?
First and foremost, make sure you auto insurance policy has UIM coverage and Med-Pay coverage. Get the highest policy limits that you can afford. UIM coverage is very inexpensive.
The worst thing you can do is buy one of the cheap auto insurance policies advertised on television because the low-price cheap policies do not provide UIM or Med-Pay, and have the lowest liability limits the state requires.
Protect yourself because when you are injured and need the compensation you deserve – you will not be left to the likelihood you are injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver.