We have spent a lot of time talking about injuries to one person, but what happens when many people are injured by the negligence of one person? Often times multiple people are injured in accidents with tractor trailers, highway accidents, traffic accidents with drunk drivers, big truck crashes, and other vehicle accidents. Smart accident attorneys and accident lawyers know that the effect of severe injuries, such as broken bones, scarring, spinal injury leading to paralysis such as paraplegia and quadriplegia, back injuries, burns and even wrongful death. The injury lawyer knows that fair compensation is often times more difficult to obtain, because the injuries to the persons in the car may be so severe that their value may exceed the insurance available to cover the claim.
Let’s take a step back and talk about how people protect themselves if they are negligent and cause injury to others. First, a person who is negligent (runs a stop sign, is speeding, runs a red light) is responsible for fixing the harm they cause. This is what your mother taught you when you were little, and it is only fair. Second, people protect their assets by buying insurance to cover their car in case they are negligent and cause an injury. The injured person makes a claim against the negligent person’s insurance company for fair compensation for the injuries the negligent person causes. This is true whether there is a settlement out of Court, or a judgment as a result of a jury verdict. As I told you before, if you are ever a juror, know, for certain, that the person against whom the claim is brought is being represented by an insurance company. All that person’s legal costs are being paid by the insurance company and the insurance company will pay the verdict that you as the jury feel is fair compensation for the injured person.
If the negligent person hurts more than one person, they have insurance that will pay. The way it normally works is that the negligent person has purchased insurance that says it will pay out a certain amount per person to a person making a claim and it will pay out a maximum amount per accident. So, for example, negligent person A has insurance with limits of liability insurance of $100,000.00 per person, $300,000.00 per accident. (Check your policy, I bet you find language similar to this although the amount of coverage may differ). This means that each person injured in the crash will be limited to $100,000.00 of compensation from that policy. You ask, what if fair compensation is above $100,000.00, or there are four people with claims that have a fair compensation value in excess of $100,000.00 each? (This is important because the most the insurance company will have to pay under this example is $300,000.00 because of the per accident limit of liability). This is a great question.
The answer is Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM) the injured person maintains on his/her car. This coverage will kick in to pay the additional fair compensation you are entitled to. This is true even if you are not driving your car at the time of the collision. The Underinsured Motorist Insurance follows you, even if you are not in your car. Because UIM is for your protection, and it is relatively inexpensive, you should keep high limits of UIM insurance. I keep $250,000.00 plus an umbrella insurance policy which will pay additional amounts.
At Young and Young we have 56 years of experience representing severely injured Hoosiers. Call John Young for assistance today.