As a personal injury lawyer, I hear about devastating crashes every day. I speak to people who have suffered life-altering injuries or lost loved ones. No matter how many times I hear these stories, I am still affected emotionally by the human tragedy that results from these collisions, which are nearly always avoidable. I have learned to channel my sense of outrage and injustice into fighting to get my clients the best possible recovery in court, but no amount of money can undo the physical and emotional damage my clients have suffered.
Earlier this week I posted about being hit by a Canadian driver on Washington roads. While being hit by a foreign national can be inconvenient, at least you can be pretty certain that a Canadian driver has auto insurance, and probably pretty good coverage too. Sadly, the same can't be said for U.S. drivers. Although Washington law requires that all drivers carry at least $25,000 in liability insurance, nearly twenty percent of Washington drivers have no insurance at all. So if you get injured in a crash caused by an uninsured driver in Washington, what can you do?
Do you know what your auto insurance coverage is? Do you know how much your limits are? If you do, you're the exception. When I speak to groups and ask this question, usually less than 10 percent of the people raise their hands. The first step in optimizing your insurance coverage is to know what you already have.
A few months ago I sat down with a man who was looking into a personal injury claim on behalf of his wife. She had been driving in Mukilteo when a drunk driver crossed the center line and hit her head on. She suffered multiple injuries, but the most severe injury was to her ankle. She had already undergone several ankle surgeries and she was looking at a long and painful recovery. It was likely that she would suffer a permanent disability as the result of this incident.
While your liability coverage pays for the damages you cause, it does not do anything to help you when you are injured by someone else. Once that person's liability coverage is exhausted, or if he doesn't have insurance, you are out of luck unless you have purchased uninsured/underinsured coverage as part of your own auto insurance.