$50,000 policy limits settlement in freeway rear-end case

My client was driving down a busy Los Angeles freeway in stop-and-go traffic when suddenly he was rear-ended by car traveling at a high rate of speed.  The at-fault driver appeared to be under the influence and fled the scene before police arrived.  My client was seriously injured in the collision and required extensive medical treatment.

The at-fault driver had a minimum liability policy of $15,000.  The at-fault driver’s insurance carrier quickly paid out the small policy, but my client was left holding the bag on his remaining medical bills.  

Luckily for my client, he had underinsured motorist coverage on his own insurance policy in the amount of $50,000.  In California, you are not allowed to stack the recovery, meaning my client could not recover $50,000 from his insurance on top of the $15,000 he recovered from the at-fault carrier.  In California, your recovery from your own insurance is offset by the amount you collected from the at-fault carrier.  In this case, for example, my client was able to recover an additional $35,000 from his own insurance for a total of $50,000 from all carriers.

I know that drivers want to save the most they can on insurance premiums, so it is easy to waive your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on your policy to save some money.  However, there are many drivers in Los Angeles with minimum liability policies or no insurance coverage at all.  I highly suggest that you keep your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on your policies for situations just like these.