The Big Question?
At some point after someone has been injured in a car accident, the big question pops up in their mind.
That big question is, “How much money am I going to get?” We see lawyers’ ads on TV with big bold
exclamations of “Millions of dollars recovered!!!” and, “My lawyer settled my case for $577,000!”.
Billboards proclaim, “We Win!” I also ran TV ads that said much the same, though my ads said, “We
have helped thousands of people and recovered millions of dollars.”
I frequently get the question from clients who see these ads asking, “how do those people get all that
money?” What they really want to know is “how do I get that kind of money?”
After spending years in the courtroom honing my trial skills doing criminal defense work and income
producing workers compensation claim work, I moved into doing personal injury law. One of the first
things I did was to buy a VHS cassette tape (that ages me) titled “How to win the million-dollar case. A
much older, distinguished looking lawyer on the tape said, “First, you have to have a million-dollar
case!” Then he went on to explain that you need an injury valued at one million dollars – which means a
major injury, one with severe fractures or permanent injury all requiring surgery. That’s when reality set
in and I realized that I was not going to get a million-dollar verdict for a fender bender with a client who
went to the chiropractor three times for neck pain.
The next thing the distinguished lawyer said was, “. . . the person that you were making claim against,
that you were suing, had to have deep pockets.” By this he means a big profitable company which
usually has big insurance policies to protect their big profits, or someone like a trucking company that
operates semi-trucks on the highways and where the law mandates they carry a big insurance policy.
With the above in mind the scary thing is that 50% or more of the cars coming at you or that are around
you only have minimum insurance. In Kansas that is a $25,000.00 per person limit policy. Even scarier is
probably one out of four cars coming at you is uninsured.
There is one particularly important thing you can do to protect your family members, your loved ones,
and yourself – that is to, right now, call your insurance company insurance agent and ask, “What are the
liability limits that I am carrying on my car?” In Kansas, in order to buy tags and register your vehicle,
Kansas law mandates that you have a minimum liability insurance policy which will pay at least $25,000
to any one person who was injured as a result of your negligent driving and up to $50,000 if there were
more than one person injured. It is still subject to the $25,000 per person limit.
So, why is this so important that you call your agent to find out your liability limits? Inside your Kansas
liability policy is another policy commonly referred to as Uninsured Motorist which means if you are
injured as a result of another driver who does not have insurance you can then make a claim on your
own policy up to your liability limits (for example $25,000.00 if you have the minimum insurance
required by Kansas law). Can you now see why it’s important to know your limits to protect your loved
ones and yourself?
To be perfectly clear, what I am promoting is this: that you buy more automobile liability insurance with
policy limits above the minimum of $25,000. The next step up is a 50,000/100,000, again this means the
maximum your insurance company would pay to any one injured person is $50,000 and the maximum
they would pay, if more than one person were injured, is $100,000. For example, if three people had
$50,000 claims the insurance would not pay $150,000, those three injured parties would have to agree
on a division of the $100,000 limits subject to the per person limit that no one person receives more
$50,000. It gets a little confusing, doesn’t it? But here’s the bottom line – if you have a higher policy
than the minimum $25,000, say a $50,000 policy, and you are hit by an uninsured driver, then there is
$50,000 to make a claim on, that is how you protect your loved ones and yourself!
Another aspect is if you have a $50,000/$100,000 policy and if you, or your family member, are injured
by a driver who only has minimum insurance under Kansas law at $25,000.00, and you have a claim that
is valued at above that $25,000 level, you can then make what is referred to as an under insured
motorist (UIM) claim which is another subpart of your liability policy. For example, if you had an injury
that was valued at $40,000 and the bad driver had a minimal policy of $25,000, which they offer to you
and, after taking certain required steps, you can then make a claim for an additional $15,000 on your
policy to pay for your $40,000 valued injury. What follows is if you had a valued injury that exceeded the
$50,000 that would be the maximum upon which you could make claim. NOW please call me or
consult a lawyer as I cannot explain all the legal steps necessary to make this UIM (Under Insured
Motorist) claim here.
With the cost of medical care and treatment there are many cases, because of those costs, where the
injury claim value easily exceeds $50,000. Your protection then would be to have a $100,000/300,000
policy, or possibly even a one-million-dollar umbrella policy. Your best option would be to speak to your
insurance agent on how to increase your liability limits to protect your family, your loved ones, and
When I was in a serious accident in 2020, my hospital stay alone was over $140,000. Once all was said
and done my expenses were closer to $200,000. I urge you to increase your coverage because I see how
it helped in my own case.
The absolute best thing I can do to help you, my friends and readers of this monthly newsletter, is to
urge you to make the call to your insurance agent or company. Do it now, make the call, first to
discover what your insurance liability cover is. Then you can make the decision to protect your family,
your loved ones, and buy at least one step above your current coverage. Later on you can call and