As Massachusetts personal injury lawyers, we see clients in one particular circumstance far too often. A person is seriously injured in a car crash. The at-fault driver carries only minimal insurance. The victim has mounting medical bills, is out of work, needs in-home care, and has nowhere to turn.
Massachusetts only requires drivers to carry Twenty Thousand Dollars ($20,000) in bodily injury coverage on automobile insurance policies. This means that if a driver who carries only minimal coverage seriously injures or kills another motorist, $20,000 may be all that is available for insurance. But it gets worse. Just because there is $20,000 in insurance does not mean the injury victim will recover that amount. It is likely that most- if not all- of the recovery will be eaten up by medical bills, lost wages, and payments to others.
First, Make Sure You Have Enough of Your Own Insurance
We have two main ways to deal with the “serious injury, limited insurance” problem. The first is that we advise all people who can afford enhanced Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist coverage on their own car insurance policy to purchase it. Uninsured and underinsured are two types of similar- but not identical- coverages. Uninsured motorist coverage provides that if a driver without insurance injures a motorist, the injured motorist may make a claim against his or her own insurance policy. This situation may come up when a driver is injured in a hit-and-run crash, by a stolen car, or by a vehicle from another state, that does not require insurance- such as New Hampshire.
Underinsured motorist coverage provides that a person may make a claim through their own insurance policy when injured by a driver who is insufficiently- or “under”- insured. For example, a person may purchase $250,000 in underinsured motorist coverage. If that person is seriously injured by a driver with $20,000 in bodily injury coverage, the injured person may collect that $20,000 from the at-fault driver, then have access to $230,000 in additional coverage.
The minimum required by the state for uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is also $20,000, but a driver can buy additional coverage relatively cheaply. For only a few dollars a month, a person can purchase $50,000, $100,000, or $250,000 in uninsured and underinsured coverage. If you can afford it, we recommend purchasing at least $250,000 in bodily injury, uninsured motorist, and underinsured motorist coverage. This additional coverage buys peace of mind, and significant protection, in case the unexpected happens.
Second, Hire a Car Accident Attorney
The second way to guard against minimal available money is to call a Worcester car accident attorney as soon as you are injured. We have a number of ways to find additional money for people injured in car accidents. Perhaps the at-fault driver was drinking alcohol at a bar and was over-served. Perhaps the at-fault driver was running errands for a business. In those instances, we may be able to sue the businesses as well, and bring much larger commercial auto insurance policies into play.