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Affordable Ways to Driver Safety!


Forbes Safest Cars for 2012

The problem is that so few people have the money to go out and buy a new car that is highly rated on safety charts. Many cars on the road don’t even have shoulder harnesses, not to mention air bags. There are other things people can do to keep themselves and their family safe. They can obey the rules of the road, drive defensively, make sure that their vehicle’s tires, breaks and steering systems are in good condition and operating correctly, use whatever safety equipment they have in their car appropriately, and seat children properly in child safety seats. The other thing that most people do not consider, but is a very important safety feature, is adequate insurance coverage on the vehicle to cover medical bills, wage loss and pain and suffering damages. In Oregon, the minimum required limits on automobiles are $15,000.00 to cover your own medical bills or medical bills of occupants in your vehicle; 70% of lost wage with a maximum of $750.00 per week for 52 weeks; and $25,000.00 per person, and $50,000.00 per accident of liability coverage. The liability coverage amounts on an insurance policy are also the uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist limits on the policy. I always encourage people to carry higher limits than the statutory minimum limits. A few hypothetical scenarios will demonstrate the my concerns:

1) If you are in an accident where the other driver does not have insurance, you will be relying on your own insurance limits to cover the damages.

a) If you or a member of your family sustains a minor soft tissue injury, incurs $5,000.00 in medical bills and no lost wage, the minimum statutory limit of $25,000.00 will probably be sufficient to cover the damages of $5,000.00 in medical bills and $5,000.00 to $10,000.00 in pain and suffering damages. If multiple people are injured, your insurance will likely be inadequate to cover all of the damages.

b) If you or a member of your family sustains a moderate to severe soft tissue injury, and incurs $15,000.00 in medical bills and $3,000.00 in lost wage, you will be left with $7,000.00 ($25,000.00 limit, less $15,000.00 medical bills, less $3,000.00 lost wage) to cover pain and suffering. The pain and suffering recovery should have been well over $10,000.00. Your insurance will be inadequate to cover all of the damages. If multiple people are injured, the situation will be worse.

c) If you or a member of your family sustains a low back injury that requires surgery, and incurs $50,000.00 (a very conservative estimate) in medical bills and $18,000.00 in lost wage, you will not even have enough insurance to cover the medical bills. Hopefully, the injured person will have health insurance to pick up a percentage of the balances due on the medical bills. If not, the injured person could very well be looking at bankruptcy. If multiple people are injured, they could all be looking at bankruptcy.

d) If you carry insurance above the statutory minimum limits, you can rest assured that you and your family members have access to those higher limits in case the other driver has no insurance.

2) If you are in an accident where the other driver is carrying the minimum limits of insurance, you will be relying on your own insurance limits to cover the damages. The most the other insurance company will pay is the $25,000.00 limit. The most your insurance company will pay is the difference between that $25,000.00 limit and your limits under the underinsured motorist provision of your policy. If you have a policy with limits of $50,000.00 per person and $100,000.00 per accident, you will have an additional $25,000.00 per person of insurance available.

a) If you or a member of your family sustains a minor soft tissue injury, incurs $5,000.00 in medical bills and no lost wage, the minimum statutory limit of $25,000.00 in addition to your additional limits will probably be sufficient to cover the damages of $5,000.00 in medical bills and $5,000.00 to $10,000.00 in pain and suffering damages. If multiple people are injured, your insurance will likely be inadequate to cover all of the damages.

b) If you or a member of your family sustains a moderate to severe soft tissue injury, and incurs $15,000.00 in medical bills and $3,000.00 in lost wage, you will be left with $7,000.00 ($25,000.00 limit, less $15,000.00 medical bills, less $3,000.00 lost wage) plus whatever additional amount you carry as underinsured motorist coverage to cover pain and suffering. The pain and suffering recovery should be well over $10,000.00. If you have a $50,000.00 per person limit, your insurance will be to cover all of the damages. If multiple people are injured, your insurance will likely be inadequate to cover all of the damages.

c) If you or a member of your family sustains a low back injury that requires surgery, and incurs $50,000.00 (a very conservative estimate) in medical bills and $18,000.00 in lost wage, you will only have enough insurance to cover the medical bills. Hopefully, the injured person will have health insurance to pick up a percentage of the balances due on the medical bills. If not, the injured person could very well be looking at bankruptcy.

d) If you carry insurance above the statutory minimum limits, you can rest assured that you have access to those higher limits in case the other driver has no insurance.

For the reasons set forth above, I would recommend that everyone carry limits of $100,000.00 per person and $300,000.00 per accident. Even those much higher limits are frequently inadequate to cover damages in an automobile accident.

There are certain laws that may allow you squeeze some additional money out of an insurance claim to pay medical bills, lost wage or pain and suffering damages. You should always consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after being involved in an accident.

© 2017 Lance D. Youd Attorney at Law. All rights Reserved