It is hard to believe how many people are driving motor vehicles in Michigan that do not have insurance. This is despite the fact that it is illegal in Michigan to knowingly operate a motor vehicle without insurance. These uninsured drivers have multitudes of excuses for neglecting to have coverage. They simply could not afford their policy and let it lapse. They forgot to make a payment. They moved and never got a bill. They had their car on storage insurance and forgot to restart the policy. They simply don’t care about being a responsible driver.
Now that we are aware there are uninsured motorists out on the roads, what are the odds that one of these uninsured Michigan motorists is going to hit you? I say the odds are good. In Grand Rapids and Holland, Michigan I get uninsured and under insured cases nearly every year. In the past thirty nine years representing victims of auto accidents in Michigan, I have handled numerous uninsured motorists’ accidents. And, in many of these cases the client has suffered serious and permanently disabling injuries.
This year I had a case in Holland, Michigan, where a young mother was driving in the morning to an appointment when a drunk driver hit her vehicle head on. The client’s car was totaled and she suffered multiple fractures. The police were able to discern at the scene that driver of the other vehicle was uninsured. The wrong way driver admitted to allowing her policy to lapse when questioned by the police. A later review of the driving record of this wrong way driver revealed she had been charged in the past with operating without insurance. This defendant in a lawsuit is most likely uncollectable plain and simple. Everybody knows you cannot squeeze blood from a turnip.
A few years ago I had a case in Kent County, Michigan, where a young man suffered paralysis after being hit by a driver with only $20,000 of bodily injury insurance. The man was able to recover under his uninsured motorist; however, the limits of the policies involved were not enough to cover the devastating injuries.
There is a light at the end of this black hole. The light is called uninsured motorist coverage. So, what is uninsured motorist coverage? The average driver is thinking right now, I must have that coverage. Really, did you buy your policy online? Even if you have uninsured motorist coverage, what are the limits? Policy limits are the maximum amount of the claim your insurance company will payout regardless of the extent of your injury.
Television ads can be misleading or over simplified when it comes to insurance needs of an auto owner. People are being pummeled today with insurance company adds purporting to save you money. Saving you money can translate to eliminating some coverage or giving you minimum coverage. The insurance companies simply tell you to go online and “pay for only what you need”. The fact is you might not know what you need. You end up not getting uninsured motorist coverage because you are saving money. But you are really risking your future if get hit by an uninsured motorist.
So what does uninsured motorist coverage actually do if you sustain serious injuries in a car crash? Michigan is a no fault insurance state. That means generally your own insurance pays for your medical bills, your vehicle damage and associated costs. However, the question then becomes when I can make a claim against the person the hit me. The answer in Michigan is that you can pursue a claim if the other driver is at fault by at least 50% and you have serious injuries. These injuries have to be threshold injuries. Simply put for this article, your injuries must constitute a serious impairment of an important bodily function. When you meet the Michigan injury threshold, you can recover for past, present and future pain and suffering.
Let’s say you are the victim of an accident caused by an uninsured motorist and you have serious injuries that meet the threshold. For instance, you have multiple fractures of your right leg. These fractures require surgery with the placement of permanent rods and screws to stabilize the fractures. This causes you to off of work for several months. You also require therapy and now walk with a slight limp. The doctor also warns you will have future arthritis. These are serious and you are entitled to past, present and future pain and suffering. If you uninsured/under insured motorist coverage you will be able to seek the policy limits from your own company. Congratulations, you have successfully covered your pain and suffering.
So, not only is it important to have uninsured motorist coverage, it is just as important to ample coverage. The more uninsured motorist coverage you have, the better your protection from the uninsured and uncollectable motorist. We all know there is no way to anticipate an accident or the extent of injuries.
Please make sure you have uninsured motorist coverage, it’s important. It protects you and your family. This Blog is intended to discuss the issues related to uninsured motorist coverage and is not intended to give of be construed as legal advice.
If you are injured in an auto accident or by an uninsured motorist, call Gerald R. Stahl or consult Geraldrstahl.com.