As in most states, Tennessee law requires drivers to take financial responsibility if they cause a car accident. Most drivers meet this requirement by carrying liability insurance. The law requires them to carry this insurance in the following minimum amounts:
However, a large number of drivers in Memphis carry only the minimum amount of liability insurance, while many other drivers carry no insurance at all in violation of the law. For this reason, some people like to give themselves extra protection and buy uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage.
Do you know what type of auto insurance coverage you have? Do you have UM/UIM? Do you know how the insurance will protect you if you are involved in an accident in Memphis or a surrounding community?
Here, we answer some frequently asked questions about UM/UIM insurance and how an experienced Memphis underinsured motorist lawyer from the Law Office of David E. Gordon can help if you or a loved one suffers injuries in a crash. Attorney David E. Gordon is a board-certified civil pretrial and civil trial advocate who can provide a free review of your case today. Call or reach us online to learn more.
Specific options for uninsured motorist coverage vary by state and by the insurer. Generally speaking, drivers carry one or more of the following types of coverage:
Tennessee is one of 49 states (or every state except New Hampshire) that require drivers to carry auto liability insurance before they can legally drive a motor vehicle. However, the type of insurance and the amount of coverage that each state requires varies greatly. Unlike many states, Tennessee does not require drivers to carry “no-fault” insurance. This insurance pays damages regardless of who is at fault. So, if you are involved in a crash in our state, your only option is to file a claim through the at-fault driver’s liability insurance.
In an effort to get more drivers to buy required liability insurance, Tennessee enacted a law in 2015 increasing the financial penalty that drivers face if they lack proof of insurance. The minimum fine went from $100 to $300. Drivers can also be charged with a Class A misdemeanor if they provide false proof of insurance.
Your medical expenses after a Memphis car accident will depend on the severity of your injuries and how well you respond to treatment. However, in many cases, the cost of treatment will exceed the $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident minimum liability limits that Tennessee law requires. Consider the following: The federal government’s HealthCare.gov website reports that the average cost of a three-day hospital stay is around $30,000, and that fixing a broken leg can cost up to $7,500.
The Tennessee Hospital Association points out that longer hospital stays are likely to result in higher charges. Some patients, especially severely injured patients, may not respond as well to treatment or surgery. So, they may have to stay in the hospital longer. Other factors, such as multiple injuries that require more services, will also result in longer hospital stays.
The National Spinal Cord Injury Center says that the average stay in a hospital acute care unit for a spinal cord injury is 11 days, and the length of stay for rehabilitation is 35 days. Additionally, about 30 percent of patients with a spinal cord injury are rehospitalized one or more times during any given year following the injury. Among those rehospitalized, the length of hospital stays average about 22 days.
If you were seriously injured or you have lost a loved one in a car accident caused by an uninsured/underinsured motorist or a hit-and-run driver, the benefits available through your UM/UIM coverage should provide compensation to you. However, you cannot count on your insurance company to inform you of all the compensation you may be due or to pay it. Many Memphis residents do not even realize they have UM/UIM coverage, and insurance companies have no legal obligation to advise policyholders of existing coverage. An adjuster from a for-profit insurance company, meanwhile, has every incentive to settle a claim for as little as possible.
Hiring a Memphis uninsured/underinsured motorist lawyer could significantly improve your chances of being able to recover fair compensation through your own insurance coverage. For instance, at the Law Office of David E. Gordon in Memphis, we fully investigate car accident claims, including locating all insurance policies applicable to the accident and our client’s losses.
In your case, we will work hard to pursue maximum financial compensation under the terms of your auto insurance coverage, as well as through liability coverage that the driver who caused your crash may carry.
If you have been in a car accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, we urge you to find out more about your legal rights and how to seek full and fair compensation for damages you have suffered. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.