Consider this scenario. You’ve been seriously injured in a car crash in Maine. You spent a significant time in the hospital after the accident, and now you face a long road ahead of rehabilitation and recovery. You won’t be able to return to your job in the short term, and possibly not ever.
Everything that once was normal — your work, your finances, your relationships, your ability to enjoy your favorite hobbies — has changed.
To make matters even worse, you learn that the driver who hit you only had the minimum insurance coverage. It won’t be nearly enough money to cover your claim. How will you pay for your medical expenses? What about lost income and basic living expenses? How will you provide for yourself and your family?
Unfortunately, this scenario plays out far too often in Maine, New England, and around the nation. If you suffer a serious injury in a motor vehicle accident and the person who caused the crash has insufficient insurance, or no insurance at all, it will be very difficult for you to recover the money you will need to move forward.
In this article, we examine the risks posed by underinsured and uninsured motorists. We also give you some specific steps you can take to make sure you have protection against the damage done by these drivers.
About 1 in 3 drivers don’t have enough insurance to cover a large claim
Nearly every state in the U.S., including Maine, requires drivers to have a certain level of insurance coverage in order to legally get behind the wheel.
But there are plenty of lawbreakers. According to the Insurance Research Council, about 13 percent of all motorists are uninsured. And for the drivers who are insured, about 20 percent purchase the minimum liability coverage. In Maine, the mandatory minimum coverage is $50,000, which is generally not enough to cover the damages caused by a serious accident.
Maine law requires all motorists to have liability insurance that will pay for property damage or injuries in the event that you cause an accident.
In addition, Maine also requires drivers to have uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage. This allows policyholders to recover compensation from their own insurers when the drivers who caused the crash either don’t have insurance or don’t have enough to cover the claims.
The minimum UM coverage in Maine is $50,000 per person or $100,000 per accident, which is equal to the minimum mandatory liability coverage.
When you start adding up property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and other short term and long term expenses from your crash, you quickly see that $50,000 probably won’t even come close to covering the true costs.
Steps you can take to protect yourself and your family
- Talk to one of our experts. If you have been hurt in an accident where the other driver has insufficient insurance, you will need an experienced personal injury lawyer to evaluate the policies involved, to investigate other sources of compensation, and to make sure you are treated fairly. Insurance companies are not going to help you. In most cases, they will simply tell you there is no more money to cover your claims.
- Raise your UM policy limits. If you are thinking ahead and protecting your family before an accident happens, one step you can take is to increase your uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage to a higher amount. For example $500,000 per person or $1 million per accident, will give you a huge boost in security in the event of a catastrophic injury.
Don’t confuse UM coverage with general liability coverage. If you ask your insurance agent about increasing your liability coverage, that will probably be expensive. But you can ask to boost only your UM coverage, which is far more affordable, and should only result in a small increase in your premium.
Talk to your insurance agent about the different levels of UM coverage and what makes sense for your budget.
- If you have an “umbrella” policy, read the fine print. Many people purchase umbrella insurance policies which provide extra liability insurance above the limits of typical homeowner or auto insurance. If you are faced with a lawsuit or major claim from an accident, umbrella policies help protect your assets.
However, most umbrella policies only apply to situations in which you are at fault, and do not cover situations in which you are the victim. You should make sure your umbrella policy includes UM coverage that will apply, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.
Why choose Berman & Simmons to handle your personal injury case?
Results. We have more combined experience than any other plaintiffs’ law firm in Maine, and have won many of the largest jury verdicts and settlements in Maine history.
Reputation. Founded more than 100 years ago, the firm is recognized nationally for its record of success in trials, a fearless approach to litigation, and for standing up for working people against powerful defendants.
Relationships. We care about our clients. We listen. We follow through on our promises. You’ll have a team behind you.