I have seen the aftermath of many horrific car crashes in my 33-plus years of practice. In one old blog post, I shared the photo of my client J’s lower leg, where the x-ray indicated one could easily place a fist into the gap between where both of his lower leg bones (tibia and fibula) had been snapped. 

I have written about a woman hit from behind so hard her face (and mascara) hit the roof of her vehicle interior.

But the photos accompanying this blog are among the most poignant I’ve seen.

My client was injured.  But she survived.  She is able to function and has made a good recovery.  But her life is forever changed.

Her injuries were many.  Neck, shoulder, back, and all the “usual” injuries one expects from being struck from behind.  But her most significant injury was invisible.  Invisible injuries are often difficult to prove, and it’s hard to convince insurance companies of their severity.

She sustained a serious concussion and post-concussion syndrome—a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).  As a result, she was unable to work at her previous level, unable to stare at her computer for much time, unable to find the right word in a sentence, unable to understand basic concepts, unable to speak as fluidly, and experienced headaches, nausea, and lightheadedness.  This lasted for well over a year before she returned to her pre-injury level. 

And she was lucky things healed and healed so quickly.  Head injuries are unpredictable, brutal, and can be permanent, as well as make one more susceptible to future head injuries. 

Blown Up from Behind…And No Insurance

The indignity of being struck at great speed from behind and injured is obvious.  However, when you learn that the person who did this had no valid insurance, it turns indignity into anger.

Someone should pay for this!

Unfortunately, in this case, the only realistic option was to pursue my client’s own insurance policy.

Which reminds me to get onto my soapbox yet again and scream at the top of my lungs to PLEASE GET YOURSELF INSURED TO THE LARGEST LIABILITY (AND UNINSURED AND UNDERINSURED) LIMITS YOU CAN AFFORD!

In my client P’s case, her coverage was limited to $100,000. 

While that is a lot of money in some contexts, ask yourself after looking at the photos and reading about her injuries, and learning that her medical bills alone exceeded $41,000, whether that amount could possibly fairly compensate her.

The Settlement

The evidence in this one was overwhelming.  Shortly after I emailed the medical records, bills, and photos to the insurer, I received an offer tendering the entire amount of her policy.

An “easy” one.

Except, “easy” settlements usually mean the client is getting screwed.

If I settle a case for policy limits, it means those limits were too low.

Usually, we can blame the other driver for having inadequate insurance limits.  Or my client for having insufficient underinsured motorist coverage (remember; your UM and UIM limits will mirror your liability limits unless you specifically reject this in writing).

Not in this case.

The good news is that I convinced P to increase her limits.  The bad news is that this does not help her in this case.

Everyone reading this should review his or her declaration page and, if it doesn’t have a limit of at least $500,000 per person per crash, increase it.  I suggest very strongly that everyone think seriously about raising their coverage to $1 million.  I also suggest adding a personal liability umbrella policy

Please also use an insurance broker to help you get coverage with a reputable company.  Don’t “cheap out” on insurance because “I’m a safe driver” or “my car is a bucket of rust.” 

All it takes is one uninsured jerk to plow into you at 50 miles an hour to change your life permanently.

Takeaways

  • The aftermath of a horrific crash can be breathtaking. 
  • Horrific crashes can change (and end) lives
  • Prepare yourself for the “just in case” and review your insurance coverage 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 car 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.