When I first spoke to S., she couldn’t remember anything about being run over. She could only recall walking her dog near the park, then waking up in an ambulance. S. had been walking her dog near Grant Park when, while crossing a street, she was struck by a car. The driver of the car hadn’t seen S. at all before beginning his right turn, and apparently didn’t even initially realize that he had hit her because he managed to run over her body with both his front and rear tires. S.’s injuries were severe: left pubic rami fracture, L5 vertebral body transverse process fracture, and a sacrum zone 3 fracture. The cost of her resulting medical treatment was nearly $100,000. While S. was sent to Grady Hospital to begin her long road to recovery, she also began fighting an uphill battle with her case. Why? The reporting police officer wrote a ticket to both the driver of the car and S.
Despite an overwhelmingly successful recovery from her injuries, S. would never regain memory of the details of the incident. This presents a problem for us as the personal injury attorneys in a civil suit: namely, how can we prove an essential element of our case – liability – if the Plaintiff is unable to provide any evidence proving the negligence and carelessness of the would-be Defendant?
Based on the statement that the driver gave to the police officer at the scene, we knew that he was not going to accept fault for running over S., so the evidence would have to come from elsewhere. The police report, however, named two witnesses at the scene. After talking to them, they began to reveal some additional facts that the police officer did not include in his report. By conducting our own investigative work with the witnesses and by acquiring favorable statements in writing, it became clear that the driver of the car that hit S. was 100% at fault for the collision and causing her injuries.
Despite S.’s inability to recall the details of the incident, we provided a strong argument to the driver’s insurance company as to the fault of their insured and we were able to force their hand to tender their full policy limits fairly quickly. However, the at fault driver only carried a Georgia minimum liability insurance policy of $25,000 and this would barely begin to cover S.’s medical bills and expenses after she was hit. At that point, our last remaining fight was against S.’s own insurance company under her Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (“UM/UIM”) insurance policy. Since there was plenty of insurance coverage available through this policy, S. was able to be fully compensated at the end of the negotiations.
Let S.’s case be a lesson to anybody reading this who carries an auto insurance policy! It is incredibly important to maintain an active UM/UIM policy. The premiums tend to be relatively low, while the benefits are extremely high. Think of it this way: you can’t control who might hit and injure you with their car, and you can’t control what sort of insurance policy they carry. If, like in S.’s case, somebody runs you over and causes you severe injuries and significant medical bills, that driver’s insurance company is only responsible up to the amount of the policy they sold to the driver! If the driver has minimum limits and you don’t have any UM/UIM coverage, then regardless of how severe your injuries or how high your medical bills, you will only ever receive $25,000 on your case. Same thing for a hit and run or a driver without valid insurance. When you carry UM/UIM, you protect yourself by guaranteeing there will be some amount of insurance money available if you’re injured in any sort of car wreck. And most importantly, your UM/UIM coverage follows you on a bicycle, e-scooter, electric assist bike, or as a pedestrian.
Ultimately, because of our successful investigative work and the availability of UM/UIM coverage, we were able to resolve S.’s case for almost a half a million dollars. Although she will continue to deal with the lasting impacts of her injuries, everyone – especially S. – is extremely pleased with the result of the settlement.
You can write me at [email protected] if you have additional questions about UM/UIM/Medical Payments coverage and especially if you are concerned about your insurance rates when using this coverage. At Hagen Rosskopf, we have a core belief that all users of our roadways deserve protection under the law.
Written by Matthew R. Hagen