As noted elsewhere on our website, a significant number of motorists are driving without liability insurance (“uninsured”) or inadequately insured (“under-insured”). Many law abiding Humboldt County drivers learn to their distress that the careless driver who injured them or one of their family, either has no insurance at all or only the minimum required under the California law ($15,000.00 of liability coverage). Most people don’t think about securing the appropriate amount of uninsured or under-insured coverage for themselves, because they don’t plan on being seriously injured by a judgment proof driver.
The above scenario is all too common. The only sure protection is to get adequate uninsured motorist coverage for yourself. In fact, auto liability insurance carriers must offer uninsured motorist coverage along with liability coverage, unless the insured expressly declines it.
If you are involved in a motor vehicle collision, it is important that you consult with an experienced lawyer who can quickly identify the available insurance coverages regarding the defendant, and also identify all under-insured coverages that may apply to your case.
Most Humboldt County drivers may not be aware that their own uninsured motorist coverage applies to a situation in which they are struck by a vehicle as a pedestrian or while riding a bicycle. What matters is that the defendant driver's vehicle is uninsured or under-insured, because the uninsured motorist coverage you have only requires that the injury be caused by an uninsured or under-insured driver.
Even if the defendant has some auto liability coverage, it is often inadequate to cover the damages suffered by the innocent Humboldt County driver. The interrelationship between the defendants coverage and the innocent drivers own coverage can often be confusing for the injured person. A recent case handled by Michael Crowley, of The Janssen Law Firm, serves to illustrate that relationship.
Mr. Crowley represented a young woman who was seriously injured while a passenger in a vehicle driven by another teenage driver in the Shelter Cove area. She suffered a spiral femoral (thigh bone) fracture which required rods and surgery to repair it. The defendant teenage driver had only a $50,000.00 liability policy coverage. The young girl’s parents had a $250,000.00 under-insured coverage with their own insurance carrier.
Proper handling of the case required that the underlying defendant’s $50,000.00 coverage first be obtained in full, which allowed the young woman to then turn to the under-insured coverage provided by her parents policy. Mr. Crowley was successful in obtaining the entire $250,000.00 amount to compensate the girl for her serious injuries which included a significant scar on her leg due to her surgery.
The Janssen Law Firm’s attorneys have successfully represented many clients in uninsured and under-insured motorist disputes, and understand how to investigate all avenues of loss and insurance coverage in order to reach fair and just results for our clients.