1. The injured person doing the suing is known as the plaintiff. The person being sued is known as the defendant.
2. In most states the word “insurance” is not allowed to be uttered at trial, but almost always the defendant (person being sued) has insurance coverage. Some states, like Alabama, excuse all jurors from jury duty who have the same insurance as the defendant.
3. Most cases settle within policy limits, so that it is extremely rare for the person being sued to have to pay money out of his or her pocket.
4. If the defendant’s insurance company decides to “roll the dice,” and loses, often the company will pay more than the insurance limits rather than be sued by the defendant for “bad faith” refusal to settle.
5. Some states surprisingly only require very minimal insurance coverage ($10,000) to satisfy their financial responsibility laws for injury to one person. Only two states require $50,000 which can be exhausted by a couple of days in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The rest of the states require less than that. Your only real protection from uninsured and underinsured drivers is to buy uninsured and underinsured motorists coverage, which in most states, is very affordable.
6. Resolving a personal injury case is not just about getting a settlement from the wrongdoer’s insurance company. Often the most difficult part of the case is dealing with Medicare, Medicaid, or health insurance companies who expect to be paid back for whatever medical bills they have paid from the time of the accidental injury until the case is settled with the wrongdoer’s insurance company. The law, at present, is very complicated regarding these “subrogation/lien” (payback) issues. Having an experienced personal injury attorney who understands these issues is indispensable.
7. Insurance rates per thousand decrease the more insurance coverage you buy. Minimal coverage costs the most per thousand. As you increase your coverage above the minimal limits, the cost per thousand dollars of coverage of liability, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage decreases.
8. Liability insurance covers you if your negligence injurers someone else.
9. Uninsured motorist coverage covers you if a negligent person, who has no insurance, injures you or a family member.
10. Underinsured motorist coverage covers you if a negligent person, who has too little insurance to cover your damages, injures you or a family member. In most states, the underinsured coverage only applies if the negligent person’s liability insurance pays out it’s liability limits first. This becomes tricky because most underinsured motorist policies require written permission to settle with the liability insurer of the negligent party and several other requirements as well, which only an experienced personal injury attorney would understand.
11. Reputable and experienced personal injury attorneys you know and trust can help you find a trustworthy firm in another state without you having to pay anything more than if you had dealt with only one firm. Most personal injury attorneys accept cases on a “contingency” basis, meaning unless they recover money for your, you do not owe them a fee.
Author: James D. “Mitch” Vilos has been representing injured persons for over 35 years, including cases involving car accidents, gunshot wounds, brain and spinal cord injuries, medical malpractice and defective products. Read his full bio here. He also defends weapons cases and is an advocate for the Second Amendment (The Right to Keep and Bear Arms).