Using Insurance to Protect Yourself in Auto Accidents

Imagine you are in a serious car accident and have been injured.  The other driver ran a red light and broadsided your car. Maybe the driver was texting.  An unfortunate occurrence that is all too common in today’s modern and mobile society.  But the reality is that many people will be involved in a car accident resulting in an injury of some type, either to themselves or to their passenger.
 
Since most of us at some point in our lives will be involved in an accident that causes injury it makes sense to protect yourself to the fullest extent possible.  One of the easiest and cost effective ways to do this is by the wise and proper use of insurance.
 
The first thing to understand about insurance in the automobile accident context is a concept of “no-fault.”  In North Dakota, you are required to carry “no-fault” insurance on your car (also called “personal injury protection”) in the minimum amount of $30,000.  You may carry more if you wish.  If you have an accident and suffer a “serious injury,” a term defined by law, you are entitled to have your medical bills and a portion of your wages paid up to the limit of your coverage without regard to your fault in causing the accident.  Since the cost of medical care is on the rise, it does not take long for the minimum amount of coverage to be exhausted through doctor visits or hospitalizations.
 
If you were at fault in causing an accident, the injured party has the right to recover damages from you so.  This typically includes medical bills and money for pain and suffering.  By law, you are required to carry “liability” insurance which will pay the injured party’s damages.  If you do not carry liability insurance, not only are you breaking the law, you are exposing yourself and your personal assets.   We recommend to our clients that they carry liability insurance of at least $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident.  Depending upon your personal situation and wealth, more coverage may be advisable.
 
If you are involved in an accident with a person who, despite the law, carries no liability insurance to compensate you for your injuries, than you must look to your own policy of “uninsured” (UM) insurance.  UM insurance compensates you when you suffer injuries and the responsible party has no insurance.  Since UM insurance is for your benefit it is crucial for you to carry it the proper amount of coverage.  Again, the minimum you should carry is $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident.
 
A similar type of insurance coverage is “underinsured” (UIM) coverage.  UIM coverage is important when you are injured to an extent that is beyond the responsible party’s liability coverage.  Since UIM coverage is for your benefit in case you are injured, you should give serious consideration to carrying an amount to compensate you adequately.  Coverage in the amount of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident is the minimum you should consider.  An even greater amount will insure that you will be fully protected in case you were injured and the responsible party does not have adequate insurance.
 
It really makes good sense to protect yourself through the wise use of insurance.      If you are injured in a car accident consult your attorney to determine your rights under your policy and the responsible party’s policy.
 

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