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Ask Our Lawyer - July 2000

Question: I was involved in an accident on my bike last week. I wasn't hurt to badly, and my medical insurance will cover all the bills. However, the lady who hit me didn't have any insurance, and I wasn't carrying anything any coverages other than liability coverage. Can you help me sue her so that I can get my bike fixed?

Answer: Probably not. What we have here is a classic case of insufficient coverage. Our member is carrying the legal minimum coverage, and so is in compliance with the law. Unfortunately, that coverage only protects the other guy, not our member. Where our member made his mistake was in declining the uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverages (UM/UIM coverage.) Why? Well, he wanted to save a few bucks, and he figured that since the law required everyone to have coverage, he didn't need to pay for additional coverages.

As he learned, not everybody complies with the financial responsibility laws. Some people simply never get insurance and give a bogus policy number when the register their cars. Others may have coverage, but they cancel it after getting the car registered. In either case, our member is left holding the bag when he gets injured in an accident with one of the scofflaws.

You ask, but how would that get his bike fixed? Simple. Remember, that even if you have medical insurance that will cover your medical bills, you would still be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering. That's YOUR money, to spend or save as you please. If you want to fix your bike, you can.

Of course, those damages are only available if the other person has coverage or you have UM/UIM insurance. If there isn't any coverage, you are probably out of luck. Most people who don't have insurance do so because they don't think they can afford it. The odds of them having sufficient resources to pay off a personal injury claim are slim and none. Without coverage of your own, there's no compensation.

Other writers in this magazine and others devoted to the rider's lifestyle have encouraged the reader to carry UM/UIM coverage. Let me add my voice. There is no excuse for ANYONE to decline UM/UIM coverage. It can be your resource of last resort. Don't be caught on the wrong side of being injured - protect yourself and your bike, and carry UM/UIM coverage.

If you have any questions you would like to ask the lawyer, please submit them to: ASK OUR LAWYER, P.O. Box 2850, Indianapolis, Indiana 46206-2850. Although there is no guarantee your questions will be answered, any topic you would like to discuss will be gratefully accepted and considered.