What Happens When You Get Hit and Everybody Scatters Away?
That’s exactly what happened to my client, R. This hardworking guy was returning to his home on the south side of Chicago after working the night shift in a north side parking garage. It’s a long commute, but he’s used to it. But the traffic in the wee hours of the early morning is almost non-existent.
What he was not expecting, however, was for a vehicle to come from his left as he passed through the intersection (he had no stop sign or light). And this vehicle was coming really FAST. It was not going to stop at the stop sign. It never even slowed.
Just like that, he was exploded into by this vehicle, hard enough to catapult his vehicle into the steel El bridge support.
As quickly as all that occurred, approximately six people jumped out of the car that hit him and ran away. Gone. Never to be seen again.
Yup, the car was likely either stolen, driven by an unlicensed driver, or some combination of the above.
Which means there was no insurance.
And R was hurt. Really in pain in his legs, knees (where they hit the dashboard), and his neck and back.
Find out how I was able to get him compensated for his injuries next.
With No Insurance, Where Does the Money Come From?
I had no option other than to pursue an Uninsured Motorist (UM) case against R’s own auto insurance. This is yet another opportunity for me to harp on why you should have the largest possible liability limits for your own policy, just in case you get hit by someone without insurance. Or by a stolen or joyriding car.
The good news is that R had insurance. The bad news is that he had minimal limits. The state minimum is $25,000 per incident per person.
Considering R’s medical bills alone exceeded $17,000, that doesn’t cover much.
Nevertheless, I was able to get a significant amount of that $25,000 into R’s pocket, free of income taxes.
Here’s how it worked out.
First, I obtained all of R’s medical bills and records. Next, I organized them and sent them via email to the insurance adjuster with a written demand. My demand letters explain exactly what injuries the client suffered, but I also dig deeper. I have clients tell me exactly what activities they used to perform daily/weekly/monthly before the incident and then to follow their treatment and recovery, and have them explain to me exactly what they can and cannot do and for how long. Ultimately, when they are released from medical care, this should correspond to them returning to their normal pre-crash activities.
This way, I can provide a pre-crash/treatment/release picture of the client’s way of life. I can point to exactly how long it was until they could kneel in church, reach the top shelf for a bowl, or play with their kids.
The demand worked, because the insurer offered the entire policy limits shortly thereafter.
This is where the alchemy occurs. I had to find a way to get R’s medical bills paid, and maximize the amount of money he received.
First of all, I worked with his health insurer to process bills that had not been paid. This should work to the client’s benefit because insurance usually pays at a highly discounted rate. So a $17,000 hospital bill might be paid at a rate of $9,500.
Granted, the health insurance contract requires that they have rights of subrogation and can be paid back from the settlement, some, or all, of the amount it paid out. In this case, the insurance is a union plan, so there won’t be much of a discount. But it’ll still be a lot better than if R paid his bills dollar for dollar.
Since settlements and verdicts for physical injury and workers’ compensation are not taxable events, whatever is left after deducting attorney’s fees, costs advance, subrogation amounts, or medical liens, are income tax-free.
Always have the highest insurance limits possible! I recommend at a bare minimum that you have policy limits of $250,000 per person per incident and $500,000 per incident total. That’s barely sufficient for any serious crash with serious injuries. Personally, anything less than $1,000,000 is playing with fire, and I highly recommend adding a personal umbrella policy.
What if the car that hit R had caused him to miss work for a year and be hospitalized for months? What would that be worth?
What if your 17 year old new driver drove through that stop sign and hit R? What amount of insurance would allow you to sleep at night?
- Uninsured drivers can cause serious damage—be prepared by making sure you are well-insured
- Examine your limits of liability and be sure you have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in sufficient amounts (they will match your liability limits)
Contact Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Stephen Hoffman
As in all cases involving injury, dog bites or injuries, workers’ compensation, medical malpractice, or other injury and potential liability, if you have been injured in a vehicle accident immediately get medical treatment, report the crash to police and your own insurance company, and contact a lawyer with expertise in your type of case, such as bicycle accidents or pedestrians hit by cars.
If you've been in an accident and have questions, contact Chicago personal injury attorney Stephen L. Hoffman for a free consultation at (773) 944-9737. Stephen has over 30 years of legal experience and has collected millions of dollars for his clients. He is listed as a SuperLawyer, has a 10.0 rating on Avvo, and is BBB A+ accredited. He is also an Executive Level Member of the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce.
Stephen handles personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay anything up front, and he only gets paid if you do. Don’t wait another day; contact Stephen now.