Leave sooner, drive slower, live longer.
I hate traffic, who doesn’t? Road rage, crazy people, it is like a war of adrenaline on the roads, for what? We are all getting to our destination sooner or later. Lately more than ever, it feels like “Fast and Furious” on the roads. I would not mind if Vin Diesel bumped into me, but so far, he has not! Accidents happen every day and the only way to avoid them is to be a conscious, defensive driver. However when you are on the road anything can happen, you are responsible for yourself but can’t control what other drivers do. Because nobody is exempt from being in an accident it is important to have some basic knowledge of your insurance policy and the steps to follow if you ever find yourself in this unfortunate situation.
Eleven years ago, I was on my way to work, singing at the top of my lungs and patiently waiting at a red light when I felt what I though was an earthquake shaking Reno, it took me a millisecond to realize that it was not a natural force but instead an individual that had been texting and failed to stop (or even slow down) at the light. Fortunately, a couple of months before my accident, I was helping a good friend that owns an insurance company and I learned some valuable information. I have always carried maximum limits on my policy but didn’t know about other things that helped immensely with my case. These are some of the basics that you may want to keep in mind.
Your Policy: Do you know what your policy limits are? Many carry the minimum limits required by law either because they want to save money or because they think they don’t need it. Carrying the minimum limits is never a good idea, if you are in an accident and the person that hits you also has minimum coverage you are in deep doo-doo. Needless to say, if you hurt someone and don’t have enough coverage they can go after your assets or your wages. When it comes to protecting your life, your loved ones and others you want to make sure that you are fully covered. Throughout the years I have seen many cases with very unfortunate endings. Medical bills can pile up very quickly and many have to file bankruptcy because of this.
UIM and UM Coverage: Uninsured Motorist Insurance protects you if you are involved in an accident and the at-fault driver doesn’t have liability insurance. Underinsured Motorist Coverage is when you are in an accident with an at-fault driver whose liability limits are minimal. Many decline both in their policies without even knowing what they are.
Medpay: This is an addition to your auto insurance for medical expenses. It is useful to have it as a supplement to your health insurance. The majority carry between $5,000 and $10,000. I am an insurance freak, so I carry $50,000 to be safe.
If you are injured in a car accident it is important that you hire an attorney. In Nevada, the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit is 2 years from the date of your accident. If you want to be successful with your case, you must follow up with all your medical providers and keep your attorney informed of your treatment, that way it is easier for them to order all your medical records and work on your summary of injuries, pain and suffering, and wage losses, if applicable. Usually, once treatment is completed, the attorney sends a demand letter to the defendant and if that doesn’t work then the litigation process begins. Please understand that from the time of filing your case, it can take up to a year or two for resolution depending on the court’s calendar. Personal injury cases often settle in mediation but if you have to go to trial, make sure you understand that anything can happen and therefore it is important to discuss the different scenarios with your attorney. I will go over more details regarding the different steps in the process of civil litigation in a future post.
Another mistake I have seen many times is when the insurance company reaches out to the injured party to offer a settlement. Some people in desperation, take the money without understanding when signing the release, the case is over and done and you have signed away all your rights. Remember, personal injury cases are based on a contingency fee, which means no costs upfront for you, all costs and attorney’s fees will be deducted from the final settlement or judgment.
By being in an accident I became a much better and more cautious driver. I am thankful that my injuries were not critical, however to this day I still have some complications from that ill-fated day. Everyone should understand that being on the road is a big responsibility and as such we should take it seriously. Never drive impaired, pay attention, and leave your PHONE-ALONE when you drive! These are the basics but feel free to leave your comments or questions. Most importantly, I hope that after reading this, you are digging out your auto-policy and reviewing your policy limits. So here is my question to you…are you adequately insured?