The single best way to protect your family from dangerous drivers before an accident occurs is to purchase as much uninsured/under-insured motorist bodily injury insurance coverage, also known as UM insurance, as you can afford.
To understand why UM insurance is so critically important, imagine the worst—that your wife and children have been seriously injured in a car wreck caused by a reckless drunk driver. Your wife has injured her head and spine, and she needs emergency neurological surgery. It will be months, if not years, before she is out of bed and ready to return to work. Likewise, your kids are hurt and hospitalized indefinitely. The medical costs are astounding: over $10,000 a day for ICU treatment; more than $5,000 per day for additional hospitalization; thousands more for X-rays, CT scans, MRI, and other diagnostic tests; tens of thousands for outpatient surgeries; and thousands more for physical therapy, rehabilitation, and prescription medications. Finally, your wife’s lost wages and additional out-of-pocket costs are staggering.
Who will pay for these extraordinary expenses and the pain, suffering, and distress you and your family have endured through no fault of your own? The drunk driver? His insurance company? Your insurer?
Under Louisiana law, the person who caused the harm is liable to pay for your damages. Legally, the reckless drunk driver is responsible to your family for all damages. However, if the drunk driver is broke, he cannot pay you. If he goes bankrupt, he will not pay you. Even the best lawyers cannot recover damages for severe injuries from a deadbeat driver who lacks money and insurance. Thus, you should never depend solely on the driver who caused the accident to cover your bills.
Of course, Louisiana law requires all drivers to carry automotive liability coverage. This is a contract between the driver and an insurance company that requires the insurer to pay damages on the driver’s behalf when he causes a wreck that hurts someone else, like your family. However, our state only requires $15,000 of bodily injury liability insurance coverage (the lowest mandatory minimum in the country) and many drivers carry no insurance at all. So you should not count on the drunk driver’s insurance for help either.
It is clearly unwise to rely on the other driver and his insurance company to protect your family from possible automobile accident losses. To truly protect the ones you love, you should take matters into your own hands by buying lots of UM insurance. UM insurance is a contract between you and your car insurance company that protects your family against damages caused by uninsured motorists, under-insured motorists, and hit-and-run drivers. So if the drunk driver who injured your family had no insurance, had minimal insurance policy limits of only $15,000, or if he fled the scene without providing any insurance information or identification, your UM insurer must pay for your damages up to the limits of your UM policy. Therefore, you should immediately buy as much UM coverage as you can afford.
UM insurance is cheaper than liability insurance and worth every penny.