What Is Enough Insurance?

The time to figure it out is now – not when you need it.

It is a tough conversation when someone is badly injured or killed and there is very little insurance to cover the mountain of medical bills, the lost earnings, the shattered dreams and the other life altering events that are coming down the road.  In the State of Ohio, $25,000 per person in liability coverage is all that is required by law to be legal to drive. Is that enough coverage for you if you are seriously hurt by another driver?

Concealed carry firearms and permits are a hot topic. I have heard people state that the reason they carry a firearm is not because they expect trouble but that they don’t expect help if there is trouble. So, they are protecting themselves. I ask though, what is more likely, getting into a serious collision or getting into a situation where you would actually pull a gun to defend yourself? I believe the odds are more likely that you are in a collision and need good insurance coverage as opposed to getting into a situation that compels you to pull a gun.

The bottom line is, if you are not insuring yourself for an amount that you believe you are worth, why are you expecting others to do that for you?  If you don’t expect help in a gun fight, why do you expect help in a collision?  Why are you not protecting yourself in this situation?

As an example, we will discuss a recent conversation I had with a client who was hit head on by a lady who went left of center. He was badly hurt. He spent 2 months in a hospital, was finally released home but needs a lot of physical therapy still. He can barely walk with a walker and can’t lift one arm. He is not going back to work and will be applying for social security disability.  His medical bills to date are over $500,000.  The lady who caused the collision has $300,000 in liability coverage. That puts her in a very high category. You could watch the next hundred cars go by and would be hard pressed to find someone with more liability coverage.  Still, it is not enough in this situation.

Her insurer is willing to pay the entire $300,000 limits BUT in exchange they want a full release of the lady who caused the collision.  My client exclaimed that $300,000 was not enough. I asked how much coverage he had to see if there would be any additional coverage available through his insurer. He only had $50,000 in coverage. In Ohio, his insurer gets a credit of the at fault driver coverage, (in this case $300,000) toward their coverage so since $300,000 is more than $50,000 my client’s insurer is not obligated to pay anything.

So, my client is not too happy about the situation. We could file a lawsuit and in a few years get a trial and win a verdict that is turned into a judgment and then try to collect from the lady who caused the collision who by this point would have filed bankruptcy. So, there is very little point in spending more money and time to pursue a judgment that will take years and garner no real results.

If my client had underinsured motorist coverage for say $1,000,000.00 then he would have up to $700,000 available from his insurer. A one million dollar umbrella that provides uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is not as expensive as you might think. It is worth asking your insurance agent about this coverage.

But make sure it includes uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.

Article by Mark Willis, Attorney

I’ve been in a car accident, do I need to hire a personal injury attorney?

If you have been injured in a car accident, you need a personal injury attorney, and you should not delay in researching attorneys and deciding on hiring one.  The longer you wait, the more time the insurance companies have to make behind-the-scenes decisions that often hurt your personal injury claim.  As just one example they will start paying your insurance coverage (that you paid for) out to medical providers, even though you have health insurance, and those dollars could have instead gone to you to pay your medical deductible, copays, etc. 

Someone who knows what they’re doing needs to take control of the claims process, and you don’t want that to be the insurance company, who will start manipulating the process in their favor and against your interests.  You need an experienced personal injury attorney to take control of this process to prevent the insurance company from playing the system to reduce what it rightfully owes you.

You also need an attorney for a whole different reason:  There is never a good time for a car accident.  It severely disrupts your life.  The days and weeks following a car accident are chaos; filled with people calling you from several different insurance companies, medical providers poking around for more insurance information, oftentimes ambulance-chasing law firms and chiropractors blowing up your phone to try and grab your business.  You are often missing work, lacking transportation, and not knowing who to trust.  These other issues can start to snowball on top of the initial car accident and begin to create even greater financial stress and hardship.  And you’re dealing with all of this while in pain and trying to get medical care.

The insurance companies are hoping that you handle this initial chaos incorrectly.  They hope that you get bogged down in phone calls and online claim forms, fail to get the medical treatment you and your doctors feel is necessary, and fail to hire an attorney.  That allows the insurance company to kneecap your case.  Basically, when you are finally ready to discuss getting your car accident case resolved, the medical side of the case hasn’t been handled the way it should’ve been – dramatically lowering the amount they have to worry about paying you.

If you don’t hire a personal injury attorney, this initial chaos will fall on you, or perhaps your family, and you will probably make several missteps, because after all, you have a life; you don’t normally battle insurance companies. 

Bottom line: only if you are uninjured, and just have damage to your car, can you get through this fairly easily without an attorney.  If you’re injured, do not delay, begin looking for a personal injury attorney right away.

What if I can’t afford a personal injury attorney?

All attorneys in a personal injury case work on what’s called a contingent fee; meaning we only get paid at the end of the case, and only if there is a recovery.  If for whatever reason it turns out there is no recovery, then you will not be paying any fee to the attorney.  In the initial stages of a personal injury case, we will be exploring if there is any insurance in the case to collect in order to obtain a full recovery for you. At Willis, Willis & Rizzi of Akron, Ohio we will be exploring the insurance situation at no cost to you.

When you come in and sit down with our personal injury attorneys, you are going to have a long interview process with us.  You will be sitting down with one of our attorneys, unlike some of our competitors who have shuffled this off to staff.  After many years of practicing personal injury law, our interview process continues to evolve because there is always a lot of information that we need to collect and understand, to hit the ground running with your case and be able to handle any issues that could potentially come up in your case.   Every case is different and every client is unique, so our attorneys want to meet you, to know who they’re fighting for and to make sure we understand the issues specific to your case. 

After that free initial interview, if both parties decide it makes sense to work together, then you will sign an attorney-client agreement and that agreement provides that we get paid only if you get paid, and that happens at the end of the personal injury case.  

There is one thing you can’t afford:  Going it alone. The insurance companies have spent the last several decades manipulating the process wherever possible to reduce the value of your case.  You need an experienced and motivated personal injury attorney fighting through that with you, shoulder-to-shoulder.

What if the other driver doesn’t have auto insurance?

It is a very common situation in car accidents for one of the drivers to not have car insurance, we see this all the time in our personal injury cases. In those situations, the most important thing is if you have what is called “uninsured, underinsured motorist coverage”. It is readily available as most insurance providers offer it to you. It is worth reviewing your auto insurance policy to make sure you have it, and if you don’t then take the steps to add it to your auto insurance policy, because that is what protects you and your family.

There is a lot of work that goes into determining if the other driver involved in your car accident doesn’t have insurance. For example, we may have a car accident case come in where the police report indicates that the other driver has insurance, but it turns out that they don’t. In this situation, our team has to dig deeper to discover if that car was garaged at a family members house or the driver was listed on someone else’s insurance policy.  Additionally, if the vehicle did not belong to the driver, did they have permission to drive it? Does the person who owns the vehicle have insurance?  Were they on the job or driving an errand at the direction of another?  Were they driving for Lyft or Uber, which could mean that there are 2 separate policies covering the same driver and car.

In many car accident cases, it’s clear if the other driver has insurance. But when it’s not – the team at Willis, Willis & Rizzi will dig deeper.

Why should I hire Willis, Willis & Rizzi as my personal injury attorney to handle my car accident claim?

There are a lot of attorneys out there who have a much more business-oriented approach to the practice of law than the personal injury attorneys at Willis, Willis & Rizzi, located in Akron, Ohio. When you visit our office, you will meet one-on-one with a personal injury attorney. That’s not true with the majority of our competitors in the personal injury attorney area. Our approach to personal injury cases is that meeting with our clients directly is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also just a better way to represent you if we can hear your story and understand first-hand what your injury has done to you and your family.   It makes everything we do more effective.

Additionally, we take pride in the lengths that we go to obtain the proper evidence you will need to maximize your recovery.  In more serious personal injury cases you are going to need a medical doctor to be an advocate for how badly you have been injured, and what that means for you now and for the rest of your life. Securing that doctor and their testimonials can be a real challenge in the practice of personal injury law, and it’s something that the team here at Willis, Willis & Rizzi works tirelessly at on your behalf.   

We often hear some of our competitors looking for ways to resolve cases without this testimony.  To us, this makes no sense in most cases.  If we will need that testimony in court (which we would), then we’d rather have it as soon as possible, as the case will likely resolve better/faster and potentially even without going to court.

The number one way of getting your case resolved without lengthy litigation is to acquire the doctor’s report as soon as possible. There is a great deal of work that goes into securing this report, but once we have it, that communicates to the insurance company in no uncertain terms that we are ready for trial. This is a key part of what we do in our personal injury cases.

Overall, we have a much more client-oriented approach than you will find in many other personal injury law firms. When you call our law office in Akron, Ohio you will speak to a real person who will put you in contact with one of our personal injury attorneys. We are proud of our staff and have highly trained paralegals who provide critical support in every case, but when you visit our office, you will meet with an attorney, and most of your contact throughout the case will be with a personal injury attorney.