Learn how to avoid the most common mistakes when purchasing the car insurance!
An insurance issue in America is as urgent as in no other country. If you didn’t follow, didn’t consider it necessary to be careful with the nuances of your insurance, and, God forbid, got into a car accident, it’s the point where sad stories begin. And the lawyer Richard Antoine will help us to sort everything out.
Richard, please, tell us what is the area of your competence?
First of all, these are the problems connected with heavy injuries received in a car accident, administrative and criminal law, problems with different kinds of licenses – medical, nursing care, real estate, for the repair of vehicles.
You’ve said, first of all, these are injuries problems received in a car accident. Why “first of all”?
Let me explain. I’ll start by saying what full coverage of a car is. Everybody believes that this insurance covers all the expenses in case of an accident. But that’s not entirely true, actually, this is not true at all.
Situations when a driver, who is sure that in case of an accident all the costs will be covered, gets into a complicated situation and has to apply to a lawyer for help became more often. I’ll give you an example. Recently, a client, who got into an accident, contacted me. Property damage in case of an accident turned out to be only $5000. For several years he has been paying for insurance which, as he thought, will cover all costs for repair. Perhaps, he would still be indifferent to what he is paying for, but, unfortunately, he got into a severe accident and found out that the amount of the insurance indemnity wouldn’t cover even the fifth part of the expenses he faced.
The question is: “Why his insurance agent didn’t tell the client that the sum for the repair of a damaged car he can expect in case of an accident is just $5000”. This is on him. My task is to warn you that you should ask about all the sums insured (LIABILITY/PD/ UM/UIM/MEDPAY) in case of an accident and not to hope that you won’t face such situation.
If to talk about full coverage, usually insurance agents, considering the desire of the clients to pay less, offer formula 15/30/10. What do these numbers mean?
In case of an accident with an at-fault driver who doesn’t carry liability insurance, your insurance company will recover the amount of not more than $15,000 for medical treatment of a driver and $30,000 for medical treatment of passengers (UNINSURED MOTORIST).
Only $10,000 will be given for the repair of your car. Once again, all my clients who got into accidents also were sure that nothing like this will happen to them. That is why I would like to warn you that $15,000 for medical treatment in an American hospital is a paltry sum.
I can agree that minimal sums of health insurance (UM/UIM) must be not less than $250,000. I had a client who received a $28,000 bill from a hospital for two hours examination after an accident.
You should realize that the law allows hospitals to take up to 50% of the sum unconditionally after the termination of a case if you don’t have separate medical insurance. For example, if you got into an accident with an at-fault driver and his liability insurance is $25,000 and your liability (UNDERINSURED MOTORIST) is $100,000 then I as a lawyer would be able to help you get up to $75,000 extra. So, you will be able to pay for the lawyer and your medical treatment out of this money.
What amount of liability can you recommend our readers?
Of course, it depends on your budget. I would recommend not less than $100,000 uninsured/underinsured motorist even if you are a student and you have low income. Let me explain why. The situations can be different. For example, if an auto mechanic or a check-out clerk breaks an arm in an accident, they won’t be able to work for several months. My client got into a car accident, he had to receive treatment and wasn’t able to work for quite a long time. The liability coverage of the at-fault driver was only $15,000, and my client’s underinsured motorist was $100,000. After all, I managed to get $15,000 from the at-fault driver and $85,000 from the insurance company, which compensated his loss of productivity and my services as a lawyer, and also covered his expenses for the treatment.
You should understand that if the sum of liability (UM/UIM motorist) is just $15,000 it will not cover a complex surgery. If your liability is only $15,000 then in case of an accident at your fault, this sum is unlikely to compensate the material losses of an injured person.
I must tell you that Russian-speaking people are afraid to apply to a lawyer. It is considered that legal advice is too expensive.
There are a lot of rules that regulate the activities of lawyers’ in California. For example, no need to pay for the work of a lawyer before he closes the case. Legal fees are indicated in the contract which is signed with the client and not one penny more will be taken. This means that the client doesn’t have to pay legal fees with his money before the case is settled.
A driver who got into an accident usually starts to panic but should he?
No way. You should know that I can help to get the money whether you get into an accident or wasn’t in a car, or your children got into an emergency situation out of negligence, and in case of uninsured/ underinsured motorist, and if your closest relative, whom you live with, has it.
Let me give you an example – I defended the interests of a Russian woman who got into an accident when she was strolling – a car ran over her. As a result, both her legs were broken. At that time she was in a divorce stage and was going to move from the apartments where she lived with her husband’s parents. As underinsured motorist was $250,000 and she hadn’t moved yet, I managed to win for her more than $100,000 using the insurance of her husband’s parents.
Let me see if I’ve got this right, if a family member, who lives with you under the same roof, has insurance with a great liability amount, you can use it to settle the financial matters of a person who got in the accident?
Yes, that’s right. I’ll share one more case. I recommended one of my clients to increase uninsured/underinsured motorist from $100,000 to $500.000. Just in case.
The following year his son was hit by a car when crossing the street. The driver assured that the boy jaywalked and is responsible for the accident. At first, I carried out an investigation and proved in a court that the driver is the one who caused the accident, because the policeman, who arrived at the scene of the accident, measured the distance incorrectly and didn’t question the injured immediately after he was hit.
The hospital charged $117,000 for his treatment. As the liability of the driver was just $100,000 and it wasn’t enough to cover the medical bill, I made the hospital take only $30,000 and not the whole amount. Fortunately, the underinsured motorist of his father was $500,000 and that is why I managed to win $250,000.
So, if you live with a relative who has good liability, in case of an accident you can rely on my help. If you do not live together and he\she is not your close relative I recommend you to write him\her into your certificate of insurance.
I would like to pay your attention to one more thing. If you would need a long-term treatment after an accident and you don’t have medical insurance, you can sign lien between a client, a lawyer, and a doctor that the payment for the treatment will be arranged after the case is terminated. Moreover, your lawyer can agree with a health care facility on the reduction of treatment costs, especially if you have separate medical insurance. In case you don’t have a lawyer, a doctor has a right to recover a full cost for treatment.
What is the percentage of the successfully resolved issues?
More than 90%. In each case, we try to work as efficiently as possible in order to win the maximum sum for a client. The amount depends on different factors and the state of the case.
It seems to me that one should consult with you in case of any emergency situation.
You are right. There is always a way in any situation, including accidents, dogs’ bites, different problems with operations under licenses – medical, nursing care, real estate, the repair of vehicles.
Call us, visit us, consultations are free. I will ask you about all the details of the situation, tell you what to do. A legal assistant Alena Arushanova, who has 19 years of experience, works in our office with leading lawyers.
Right after the interview I visited my insurance agent and checked the numbers of my liability. The situation was the following – if to increase the liability from 15/30/10 thousand dollars to 100/300/100, I have to pay an extra $184 per year. The price of all financial problems in case of an accident is just $15 per month. Isn’t it worth it?
If you or your relatives got into a difficult situation after an accident, be sure to contact the office of the lawyer Richard Antoine by phone (916) 625-6551. Russian-speaking staff member Alena Arushanova will answer your call at any time of the day.