Example of a Typical Underinsured Motorist Case
The vast majority of drivers in Maine are underinsured. If you cause a serious accident and the occupants of the vehicle you hit are badly injured, their medical expenses can easily exceed $500,000. Yet, most Mainers maintain minimal coverage or coverage that is just above the minimum--not nearly enough insurance coverage to pay for damages typically caused by a serious motor vehicle accident. Given this, we recommend that everyone purchase at least $1,000,000 in underinsured motorists (UIM) coverage. This coverage is relatively inexpensive and can provide at least some protection if you are seriously injured by the negligence of another.
One of recent clients found out too late the importance of having adequate UIM coverage. He was involved in a serious accident on his way home from work. After a lengthy stay in the hospital and several surgeries, he found himself unable to work for a period of six months and facing massive medical bills. Unfortunately the driver who hit him was an 18-year-old who had recently graduated from high school and did not have a job. Like most 18 years olds, the teenager purchased the cheapest insurance policy he could find that had the least amount of insurance coverage. This coverage was only enough to pay a small portion of our client's medical expenses. Our client's insurance coverage, in particular his UIM coverage, was slightly more than the state minimum.
Our client was facing almost certain financial ruin when he contacted our office. We immediately did an asset check to see if the 18-year-old had any assets that could be recovered. As expected, teenager had absolutely no assets that could be recovered for our client. While we were checking the 18-year-old's assets, we carefully reviewed our client's insurance policies to see if there was any other coverage that could be utilized. We had to inform him that, unfortunately, the most that could be recovered would be the $50,000 from the 18-year-old's insurance carrier, as well as another $50,000 from our client's UIM coverage.
With medical bills that far exceeded the combined $100,000, our client faced the prospect of having all of the insurance money go to paying those bills, leaving him with a massive pile of unpaid bills. Given this, we contacted all of the various health care providers who treated our client and proceeded to negotiate down the medical bills to a small percentage of the original amount. In the end, our client was able to take home over $30,000 and owed nothing to his health care providers! While this is certainly not what we were hoping for and was clearly not fair compensation, our client was very pleased to be able to have at least some money to help him get by while he was out of work and to no longer have the weight of all that massive debt hanging over his head.