Planning Tips

Planning Tips - Personal Injury

 

Our litigation experience has shown that some of the different types of financial losses caused by personal injuries can be avoided or minimized by careful planning.  We have seen many instances in which poor planning limits the ability or makes it difficult to obtain a fair recovery for losses caused by the negligence of another person or entity.

While we do not handle defense of personal injury claims, social security or medical malpractice claims, we would be pleased to provide a referral if your issue is not one that we would handle.  

Planning tips to help minimize the risk of financial losses in the event of a future motor vehicle collision:  

  • Review and update your insurance coverages.  The Maryland Insurance Administration publishes guides to auto insurance that describe different rates and types of coverage and coverage specifically for teens.  Take a look and educate yourself and talk to your insurance agent.

Read through those materials to educate yourself as to potential concerns.  Discuss those matters with an attorney to help you figure out how laws apply to and impact your particular business and commercial concerns.

  • Consider purchasing full Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage and the maximum amount of medical payments coverage that you can afford.   Full PIP covers you, members of your family residing with you who may be injured in a collision, anyone else injured in your vehicle and pedestrians injured by your vehicle.  It pays for medical expenses and a percentage of lost wages no matter who is at fault. These benefits are paid relatively quickly while you may have to wait years to settle a claim with the insurance company against somebody who caused the injuries.

  • Consider purchasing Enhanced underinsured motorist coverage instead of the basic form of underinsured motorist coverage (UIM).  Enhanced UIM coverage is relatively new under Maryland law.  You should specifically request it if your insurance company does not make you aware of this right.


Why is UIM coverage important?

 
 
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UIM coverage is for your protection – not the protection of the person who performed wrongful acts that caused injuries.  UIM steps in to provide coverage for bodily injuries of people in your vehicle if the at fault driver does not have coverage or has minimal limits of coverage that are not enough to pay for your injuries.  The basic form of UIM coverage can only pay the difference between the at-fault driver’s coverage and your basic UIM coverage with respect to covered losses that exceed the at-fault driver’s limits.

Enhanced UIM coverage, on the other hand, allows you to stack the amounts available under your enhanced UIM policy on top of the amounts available under the at fault person’s insurance coverage with respect to covered losses that exceed the at-fault driver’s limits.  

Enhanced UIM coverage may be critical in some cases because it is a sad fact that the worst drivers on the road have the least amount of insurance coverage.  Such drivers typically carry only the minimum amount of insurance required under Maryland law. Those limits are currently $30,000 per person or $60,000 per accident, and $15,000 for property damage (a.k.a. 30/60/15).  The costs for medical treatment of serious injuries may vastly exceed those limits.  Just one day at Shock Trauma could cost over $10,000.

Here are some examples showing how the basic and enhanced forms of UIM differ:

If you have basic UIM coverage in the amount of $100,000, and the at fault driver has liability coverage in the amount of $30,000, the maximum coverage available under a basic UIM policy would be limited to $70,000.  In other words, the maximum amount of coverage available from both polices combined would be $100,000.

If you have enhanced UIM coverage in the amount of $100,000, and the at fault driver has liability coverage in the amount of $30,000, the maximum coverage available under your enhanced UIM policy would be the full amount of $100,000.   In other words, the maximum amount of coverage available from both policies combined would be $130,000.


The above are just some examples of ways in that UIM coverage could work.  An attorney or your insurance agent should be able to advise you as to how your specific coverage would work in your particular case.  

Consult a dispute resolution firm such as Jacobs & Barney to evaluate your case, advise you as to its strengths and weaknesses, assist you in your decision-making processes to resolve the dispute and work towards a satisfactory and cost-effective resolution to your problem.


Call us at Jacobs & Barney at 800-830-1250 to discuss your legal matter.