Q: My wife was severely injured when a man ran into the rear of her car. The man only carried $25,000.00 in insurance and my wife’s medical bills alone are over $60,000.00 and still climbing. Is $25,000.00 all, she can recover?
A: Depends. A claim, or a lawsuit if brought, is actually against the person that caused your damages and not directly against the insurance company. The insurance company is only obligated to pay up to the limit of insurance the insured driver purchased. You need to investigate to see if the man that hit you has any non-exempt assets that can pay for your damages. However, in my experience in practicing Law for over 26 years I have never seen anyone that has any type of non-exempt assets over and above their insurance limits. If they do have substantial assets, they would have purchased much more insurance to protect their assets.
You need to check to see if you purchased Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance and/or Underinsured (UIM) insurance on your car’s policy. (PIP) Coverage is no fault insurance and will pay your medical bills plus 80 percent of lost income. However, you can only buy it in limits of $2500.00, $5000.00 or $10,000.00.
You may also have purchased Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) Coverage. In your case since you were hit by someone that has insurance but not enough to cover your damages your Underinsured coverage is there to pay for your damages over what the other person has in insurance. You can buy much higher insurance limits under (UM/UIM) Coverage than you can for (PIP)
I have written a free Book entitled A SIMPLE GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE IN TEXAS that explains all the different types of insurance coverage available and what I recommend everyone carry.
If you have any questions or would like one of my free books entitled A SIMPLE GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE IN TEXAS or a free ACCIDENT INFORMATION CARD please feel free to e-mail my office.
*Kerry H. Collins is Board Certified in Personal Injury
Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization