By, Richard P. Hastings, Connecticut Car Accident Lawyer
How To Get Money When You Are Injured In a Motor Vehicle Accident Case When The At Fault Driver Has Little or No Insurance
What would you do if you or someone in your family were seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident, only to find out that the responsible driver either did not have insurance or had minimum limits of insurance coverage that would not properly compensate you or your family member for your injuries and damages?
In Connecticut, drivers are required to carry minimum limits of motor vehicle liability insurance coverage according to the 20/40 formula. This means that the most any one injured party can receive in any motor vehicle accident case caused by the insured driver is $20,000, and the most the insurance company will have to pay out in total to all of the injured parties is $40,000.
Unfortunately, when people obtain motor vehicle insurance, they tend to look no further than what the premium will be in order to determine what type of liability coverage to buy. As a result, many people purchase the minimum limits of liability coverage. Worse, a great number of people choose to operate a motor vehicle without any insurance coverage at all.
You can protect yourself and your family if you’re involved in an accident caused by someone who either doesn’t have any insurance or who has insufficient liability coverage to compensate you adequately for your injuries by carrying uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on your own motor vehicle insurance policy.
This coverage-UM/UIM, as it is frequently called-pays for injuries to you, your passengers, and family members who are injured by another driver who is at fault but who doesn’t carry any liability coverage (an uninsured motorist, or UM) or doesn’t have sufficient insurance coverage to pay for all of your losses (an underinsured motorist, or UIM).
Clearly, UM/UIM is one of the most important coverages you can have on your motor vehicle insurance policy. It’s like buying liability insurance coverage for every driver on the road. The premium for this kind of coverage is relatively modest in comparison to the protection it can provide.
There are two basic types of UM/UIM coverage: straight coverage and conversion coverage. Straight UM/UIM coverage allows you to access this coverage only if your UIM coverage is greater than the insurance coverage carried by the at-fault driver. Conversion coverage allows you to access your UIM coverage regardless of the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage.
Let’s assume that you have UIM limits of $50,000, the responsible party has $20,000 in bodily injury coverage, and your case is worth $60,000. If you had straight UIM coverage, you would receive $20,000 from the responsible party and $30,000 from your carrier-that is, $50,000 (your UIM limits) less $20,000 (the responsible party’s limits), for a total of $50,000. If you had conversion coverage, you would recover $20,000 from the responsible party and $40,000 from your carrier for a total of $60,000.
We bly recommend that you carry at least $500,000 of UM/UIM conversion coverage, if not more. You should have UM/UIM limits equal to your liability insurance coverage, and you should never reduce your UM/UIM limits below your liability limits. Again, you may be surprised to learn how little this additional coverage will cost you. You should also obtain an umbrella or excess liability policy of at least $1,000,000, if not more.
You can also obtain additional protection for yourself and your family by purchasing medical payment benefits (med pay) and/or basic reparations benefits (BRB). These types of coverage pay for the medical bills you incur as a result of a motor vehicle accident, up to the stated policy limits. Your BRB coverage will also pay for wages lost as a result of your accident, up to the limits provided for in your policy.
It’s important for you to call your insurance agent immediately to discuss your coverage issues. It is also important that you speak with an experienced car accident lawyer to find out what further protection you can obtain before it is too late.