Julie was driving home late at night after attending an out-of-county training session for work. Her employer sent her for the training and it was a requirement that she attend. While driving home, a drunk driver crossed the centerline of a two-lane road and collided head-on with Julie’s vehicle. Julie would be immediately taken to the local hospital where she would undergo hours of surgery and begin a long course of physical therapy on the road to recovery from her serious injuries. The drunk driver would succumb to her injuries at the scene and the prospect of making any sense of her careless actions after ingesting some impairing substance, whether it was alcohol or some other impairing substance, would die with her.
Car Accident Cases Can be Complex
When I read about what happened to Julie, it sadly reminded me, as a trial lawyer, of many similar circumstances that people find themselves in after an automobile accident. What should be a clear, open and shut, case with an insurance company can turn into a very complex set of circumstances where legal advice becomes necessary and critical to meet the needs of the injured person.
One might reasonably think – I was hit by a drunk driver, what’s the problem? Surely the insurance company will pay for my injuries, right? The first issue is proof of the impaired status. With the driver no longer alive, criminal charges are not issued. It becomes a bit of a waiting game for the information to make it into a report. If the impairing substance is not alcohol, but some other substance, then the report can often be useless as they are prone to simply acknowledge the presence of an impairing substance rather than quantifying an amount in their system. Needless to say, this can complicate the proof issues when an insurance company is asked to pay for the damages sustained by someone like Julie.
The Problem with Inadequate Insurance
The second issue is inadequate insurance. Anecdotally, it has been my observation that most people are driving around with the minimum limits of insurance (If you are lucky enough for them to have insurance at all). If you have not purchased underinsured motorists coverage on your own policy, you are limited to that minimum limits policy. Worse, if you have not purchased uninsured motorist coverage, your injuries could go uncompensated if the other driver has no insurance.
Workers’ Compensation and Liability Insurance
The third, and perhaps most complicated issue, is that Julie was on a work-related trip. The interplay between liability insurance for the impaired driver and workers’ compensation insurance can be confusing for even the most experienced of insurance and legal professionals.
When the workers’ compensation carrier begins paying for Julie’s surgery and her long-term physical therapy and rehabilitation, they expect to get their money back from any at-fault party. Suddenly, that minimum limits policy and the availability of underinsured motorist coverage become a source of payment for the workers’ compensation carrier rather than as compensation to the injured person. The rules are complicated and it is important to determine whether any claim of subrogation or right of reimbursement is valid and enforceable.
Anytime I see a story like Julie’s, my mind races through all of those scenarios that can come into play. It is an occupational hazard I suppose. But, I always come to the same conclusion. The injured person is best served by having a team of experts analyzing and walking through each of the possible scenarios to make every effort to ensure that the injured person is compensated.
Julie did nothing wrong. Why should she worry about insurance companies fighting over who gets paid? Julie needs to focus on healing from her injuries and minimizing the impact on both her and her family. For that reason, we want you to remember that the Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor, P.C. has the team of lawyers and legal professionals to deal with these complicated cases should you or a loved one ever find yourself in Julie’s situation.
Hopefully, you never need a car accident lawyer, workers’ compensation lawyer, or personal injury lawyer. But, if you do, call the experienced team of lawyers and professional staff at the Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor.