SUCCESSES Theresa M. Kohlhoff was named a member of the The National Top 100 Trial Lawyers for 2013. Being part of groups like this help our firm to be strong advocates by keeping our thinking on procedural and substantive areas cutting edge current.
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I have a client who was hit by a car while walking across a busy street. The man who hit him had only minimal policy limits- in Oregon that’s $25,000. My client had no car insurance- he had no car at all. Hence the walking. After being in intensive care and weeks in a rehabilitation wing of a hospital, and now with missing teeth, a permanent leg injury and a lingering head injury, my client’s medical bills are well over $100,000- and rising.
There is no other coverage than the $25,000. My client said to me today he had no idea, back when he did have a car, that when he chose to have minimal coverage (because they car was junky) that he could hit someone and all he would have to help that person was a minimal policy. He was horrified that he could “ruin someone’s life” because he lacked insurance.
So please, everyone, check your coverage amounts. Check to see if it would really cost that much to go up in coverage. Check around for other insurance companies. Ask your friends and family if they are happy with their insurance companies. Get referrals, price compare.
Because if you make a mistake and hit someone, you will be responsible for those injuries. And while you certainly don’t want to have your house sold or lose your life savings, please don’t forget you are also affecting the life of person (and their family) you hit.
Also, check how much underinsured motorist insurance you have. This comes into play when someone hits YOU and does not have enough insurance. In Oregon, even if you have a lot of underinsured motorist coverage, your own insurance gets to reduce that underinsured motorist availability by the total amount you have already received.
So if you have $100,000 in underinsured motorist coverage, and the person who hit you gave their policy limit of $25,000, and paid out in Personal Injury Protection the minimal $15,000, then you are actually only entitled to $60,000 of your own policy. A legislative fix is drastically overdue for this terrible system in Oregon. But in the meantime, don’t rely on bad drivers to make sure you will have enough insurance to cover your injuries. Medical bills are crazy expensive. Protect yourselves and your families.