A retired neurosurgeon and 72 year old bicycle rider, Ross Bornfleth of Yakima, Washington, came very close to having to answer that horrifying question. In early September Ross was riding his Trek road bike in the West Valley on Wide Hollow Road when a car tried to pass him and hit him from behind. Ross was sent flying by the impact and landed in the road badly injured. As Ross laid in the middle of the road he watch as the vehicle's brake lights came on for a few seconds as if the vehicle was stopping, and then it sped off leaving him lying in the road with broken bones and in pain.
Ross' injuries were severe. He suffered fractures to his pelvis, scapula, and clavicle and is confined to a wheelchair for six weeks. Luckily, Ross will be able to get up out of that wheelchair and walk again. But what if he was not so lucky? What if the wheelchair was permanent?
The hit & run driver fled his responsibility taking any insurance coverage with him. Ross has been left to pay all of his own medical bills and expenses for his severe bicycle accident related injuries. What are his options? If Ross had downloaded our report "The Guide To Buying Car Insurance In Washington" then perhaps he had maximized his Uninsured Motorist (UIM) coverage and Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage on his own car insurance.
PIP insurance would pay for Ross' medical bills up to the policy limit, which is usually $10,000 but sometimes can be as high as $35,000. If that is not enough then Ross will have to look to his health insurance to pay the remaining bills. If he has no health insurance then he will have to pay the bills out of his own pocket until he has completed his injury treatments. Ross' last option will be to seek compensation through his UIM insurance.
We almost always recommend that you wait until you have finished injury treatments and healed from your injuries, either totally or as much as possible, before making a Uninsured Motorist (UIM) coverage claim. Why? Because UIM coverage by design takes the place of the at fault driver which is an adverse relationship. UIM generally will not pay medical bills as you treat and the bills are incurred. UIM will only pay one lump sum to settle the whole claim at once and pay all bills and expenses. Because of this you want to wait until you're healed and know exactly how much treatment your injuries require before closing your UIM claim.
UIM insurance pays for more than just medical bills. It pays for any future care that may be needed. If you were left paralyzed you may need daily care from a nurse or other medical care person. You may not be able to work at your job any longer, losing all your future income from your chosen career. You may have been left with a certain amount of daily pain that will not be going away and you will live with for the rest of your life. UIM insurance is designed to pay for all of these things and others.
The short answer to our initial question hopefully for you is "I will make a UIM claim to pay for all the damages that I suffered and the care I will need in the future." Hopefully, you purchased as much UIM coverage as possible to deal with this worst case scenario.
For more information and recommendations on what insurance coverages to buy to best protect your family please download our report The Guide To Buying Car Insurance In Washington.
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Scott McDonald and Associates PLLC
410 Market Street
Kirkland, WA 98033