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Protecting Yourself and Your Family: Medical Payments & Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

You can be the greatest quarterback in the NFL, but if you don’t have a ball, you are not going to complete one pass. Similarly, you can be seriously injured due to the negligence of another, but if there is limited or no money available to compensate you, the best lawyers cannot do anything to change that situation.

There is nothing more frustrating for us as attorneys as not being able to help someone who is injured. An example of this is a gentleman came into the office last year wearing a halo due to multiple fractured vertebrae. He was hit head on by a drunk driver and had emergency surgery at a hospital. The drunk driver had no insurance. Unfortunately, the victim had no uninsured motorist coverage, so there was no money at all for him to collect. Many people ask why in that situation don’t we sue the drunk driver and seize his assets, paycheck, etc. If we thought we could collect doing that we would, but the reality of the situation is, you almost never get money from an individual. Most people don’t have thousands of dollars available to satisfy any judgment, and the few that do can successfully avoid any collection efforts. So the gentleman with the halo will suffer with injuries for the rest of his life and not collect one dime!

This can be avoided. You can protect yourself by buying uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which starts at a minimum of $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident. Check with your insurance agent, but this coverage is not that expensive. I would recommend $100,000/$300,000 as the minimum amount to protect you. Although most people do have insurance, there are a good number of people driving with the minimum limits of $25,000 of liability coverage. We see this situation all the time; where a person is injured, taken by ambulance to UMC hospital, who treats him in the trauma unit and generates a bill of say $10,000. The hospital has an automatic lien on your case, so with only $25,000 available, there is not much money left to pay for other doctor bills and compensate that person for their injuries. It really is not that much different from the drunk driver with no insurance.

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Protecting yourself and your family with substantial uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is highly recommended. You can also benefit your claim by purchasing medical payments coverage (also known as med pay), even if you have health insurance. Med pay coverage usually has limits of $5,000 or $10,000. You can get even higher limits, check with your insurance agent. If you are in a car accident, medical expenses up to the limit will be paid under this coverage. They will only kick in as a result of a motor vehicle accident. So other than that, what’s the benefit? We get this question a lot: “My uncle had the same case as me, why did he get almost $10,000 net and I am getting only $5,000?” Most likely your uncle had medical payments coverage. Most soft tissue claims end up with the patient treating for a few months. Without med pay, the doctor will usually treat you on a lien, which has to be paid back at the end of the case. Liens from doctors, hospitals, health insurance companies, and Medicare eat away at your net settlement. The beauty of med pay is that you don’t have to pay it back at the end of the claim. For example, “Client A” treats for 2 months and has medical expenses of $5,000. He has med pay. The case is valued at $10,000 for settlement. The only expense is attorneys fees of 1/3, so he nets $6,666. (Assuming no costs for the example).

“Client B” has the same expenses, but they are all on a lien. At Craig P. Kenny & Associates, we never make more than the client, so in the second example we would negotiate the lien down to probably $4,000, and reduce our fee a few hundred dollars so that the client would get about $3,000; a far cry from “Client A”. And remember, the FACT THAT YOU OWE MONEY ON LIENS DOES NOT INCREASE THE VALUE OF YOUR CLAIM. If the case went in front of the jury, nothing about insurance or whether the bills are owed are relevant.

The bottom line is, don’t rely on your fellow driver to carry enough insurance to compensate you for your claim. If you own a car, you are in control of whether you have the above coverages to protect and benefit you. If you are unsure of the coverages you carry on your insurance policy, please give us or your insurance agent a call to go over it with you.

By |October 2nd, 2018|Auto Accident|0 Comments

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