Unfortunately, no matter how safe a driver you might be, the chances you will be in a car accident are high. In the United States, there is an average of 6 million car accidents every year. 3 million people are injured, 2 million of them seriously. Ninety people die in crashes in the US every single day. Remember, when you choose your auto insurance, you are not just protecting other people on the road, you are protecting yourself and your passengers. This is why it is important that you make smart decisions about the type of car insurance you purchase.
Do Not Limit Your Right To Sue
Many states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey, allow you to decrease the cost of your car insurance by limiting your right to sue. In Pennsylvania, this is called limited tort. In New Jersey, it is normally referred to as verbal threshold. In both cases, what it means is that if you do not suffer a serious injury you lose the right to sue for your pain and suffering. However, what you consider a serious injury due to its impact on your life, and what insurance companies consider a serious injury are probably two very different things.
What is a Serious Injury?
In Pennsylvania, a serious injury is something that causes a significant deformity or impairment of a body function, or death. In New Jersey, serious injuries include such things as:
- Loss of a limb
- Significant scarring
- Severe fractures
- Loss of a fetus
- Other types of severe permanent injuries
Hopefully, if you are in a car crash, you and your loved ones will never experience any kind of injury never mind a serious one.
Many car crashes do not lead to the kind of injuries that meet the requirements for a pain and suffering suit but still have a long-term negative impact on the victim’s life. For example, it is common to experience soft tissue injuries in an accident. Soft tissue injuries affect the muscles, ligaments, and tendons. It is especially common to suffer soft tissue injuries to the back and neck. These types of injuries can be long-lasting or even permanent, but do not generally count as serious for purposes of a lawsuit. As a result, even if you suffer a permanent back injury, but it is soft tissue in nature, you may find the insurance company unwilling to compensate you if you choose limited tort or verbal threshold. Given the likelihood that you will be in a crash at some point, and that you will suffer an injury at that time, the limit on your right to sue can cost you a lot of money.
Underinsured Motorist and Uninsured Motorist
The second major issue many people experience when they are in a car crash is, they find that the responsible driver is underinsured or uninsured. Unfortunately, if the responsible party does not have insurance or only has the minimum amount of insurance required, you could find that there is not enough insurance to cover your damages. In some cases, this could leave you owing money for medical bills or unable to receive compensation for your lost wages, even though you did nothing wrong. The solution to this problem is to make sure you purchase both underinsured and uninsured motorist. UM/UIM allows you to recover from your own insurance if the responsible driver does not have enough insurance or has no insurance at all. It will also cover you in case of a hit-and-run driver. Adding UM/UIM to your policy is not expensive and can make a very big difference in your ability to receive fair compensation for your crash.
How Much Insurance Should You Purchase?
How much insurance you should purchase will depend on your needs. However, what you should remember is that you can only collect as much insurance as is available. This means if the other driver only has $15,000 in insurance and you only have $15,000 in insurance, even if you have full tort and UIM, the maximum available is $30,000. If you were severely injured and unable to work for a long period of time, you may find that $15,000 or $30,000 will not cover your expenses. Especially when you realize it is possible you might have to pay some of your medical bills out of your settlement.
Keep in mind that the number of people injured also impacts your ability to recover from the insurance. If you are in a multi-car accident or there are several passengers in a two-car accident, the insurance will need to be divided among all the victims. The minimum amount of insurance in Pennsylvania is 15/30, which means $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident. If another driver has 15/30 and hits you, but here are 6 victims in the cars, that money has to be divided among all of the victims.
When you think about how much insurance you should buy, consider not only the cost of the insurance but the financial situation you and your family might be in after a car accident. Especially if you are unable to work for a period of time.
Remember You Are Protecting Everyone
When you think about your auto insurance purchase, consider the fact that you are protecting your spouse, your children who drive, your children who do not drive, and any uninsured passengers you might have in your car. You are also protecting other people on the road, drivers, passengers, and pedestrians if you or another driver in your household causes an accident. No one intends to cause a car crash, but they happen to the best drivers. It only takes a simple mistake.
Buy The Right Kind of Car Insurance
The attorneys of Rodden, Rodden & Breslin strongly encourage all drivers to purchase full tort/zero threshold insurance. We also encourage all drivers to make certain they purchase UM/UIM. Last, we recommend that you purchase a policy that provides enough financial protection so that you will be able to support yourself and your family if you are seriously hurt. And, if you find yourself injured in a crash, no matter what kind of insurance you have, please reach out to our firm for help, today.