“You can't get blood out of a stone”
One of the hardest parts of my job is having to say “no” to potential clients. These usually fall into four categories: The dog; the wobbler; the ‘out of my wheelhouse’; and the no insurance. The first category is the easiest to turn down. If you’ve ever had a Sovereign Citizen call to tell you that they want to sue the U.S. Government and Elvis Presley for a hundred million dollars because “they did a RICO” it’s quite a relief to know that you dodged that bullet up front rather than six months into litigation. The ‘out of my wheelhouse’ cases are tougher because it’s often someone who may have a legit case but I can’t represent them because it’s not my area of expertise and digesting a century’s worth of Maritime Law in a few short months is neither in my or the potential client’s best interests. Same with the wobblers. Those are also legit cases that I can’t take because of economics or just not having the bandwidth for them at that particular moment. The latter two types of cases I’ll try to refer the clients out to another attorney who specializes in that practice area or who has the ability and desire to take that specific case.
By far the most difficult cases are those where a person is seriously hurt in a car accident but there’s no insurance available to compensate them for their injuries. It often goes something like this: A potential client calls up saying they were in a car crash. They were sitting at a red light or in traffic, minding their own business, and all of a sudden they’re rammed into from behind by someone going way too fast. There’s a ton of damage to the cars and the client is in really bad pain so they have to get transported to the hospital. Later they get some imaging done because the pain doesn’t go away (MRI’s, X-rays, etc.) and the tests reveal a serious problem with their spine, often requiring surgery. Because this is a car accident that happened in California, at some point this client will tell me that the driver that hit them didn’t have any insurance. “Ok” I say, “if you have UM/UIM coverage this may not necessarily be a big deal.” Then the client will ask me, “What’s UM/UIM insurance?” Houston…we have a problem.
So what exactly is UM/UIM insurance? Well, if you’re driving around in California and get into an accident it could be the thing that saves you thousands, and maybe even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Most folks who purchase an auto insurance policy often only think about what happens if they hit someone, or who’s going to pay for their car. That’s called liability coverage. And if you really like your car you’ll get full coverage so that insurance will fix it regardless of who’s at fault in a collision. But what happens to you if you’re injured? Who will pay your medical bills, your time off from work, and – most importantly – for your pain and suffering, your loss of enjoyment of your life? (Ever try enjoying ANYTHING when your back feels like it’s literally on fire? Kind of takes the jam out of your doughnut as the English like to say.)
In Part II of this blog I’ll get into what UM/UIM insurance is, why you need it, and how insanely cheap it is relative to the benefits you receive from it if you’re ever in a car accident.