If Drunk Driver is Uninsured, Grieving Families Could be Unable to Collect Damages
Last week, the promising lives of four teenagers were abruptly taken when a drunk driver barreled into their car on Gratiot Ave. in Roseville. As if losing their children to an untimely, senseless death isn’t enough, the families of the four St. Clair Shores teenagers may not receive a financial recovery for personal injury/wrongful death damages, Michigan auto accident lawyers say, because the drunk driver may not have been covered by automobile insurance.
According to published reports, Roseville police said Frances Dingle, 47, of Mount Clemens, was driving at twice the legal limit of alcohol intoxication at 80 mph when she lost control of her van and ran into the teens’ Chevy Cobalt. She has been cited for driving without proof of auto insurance, meaning she may not have insurance at all. This is why the auto accident lawyers of Michigan Auto Law stress that Michigan families need to purchase Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage; especially since many automobile insurance companies do not inform their policy holders about these important options. These coverages are affordable and will protect you if you are in a car accident or truck accident with a driver who has little or no automobile insurance.
Why Michigan Auto Accident Lawyers Recommend UM/UIM Coverage
Given Michigan’s flailing economy, there is an increasing chance that when a serious car or truck accident occurs in Michigan, one of the drivers may be uninsured. According to the Detroit Legal News, in 2008, more than 50 percent of Detroit drivers did not have mandatory auto insurance coverage. Michigan law requires every owner of an automobile to carry at least a $20,000 minimum in liability insurance. But many people only pay the minimum insurance premium necessary to renew their license plate each year, and often let the auto insurance lapse.
UM coverage provides a valuable source of legal recovery after an auto accident, when someone is injured or killed by another driver who is uninsured. With UM coverage, an injured person turns to his or her own auto insurance company to pay what would have been recovered from the uninsured driver, if he or she had properly carried auto insurance.
Since so many people are insured with only minimum insurance coverage for bodily injury ($20,000), underinsured motorist coverage protects people who have been seriously injured by a driver with inadequate insurance policy limits. We recommend that you carry at least $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident for both UM and UIM coverages.
Without UM and UIM, a driver or family members severely injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver will have no source of personal injury recovery — other than filing a lawsuit against the driver for his or her personal assets. We have found that most people do not have sufficient personal net worth to compensate a person they have seriously injured. Furthermore, the at-fault driver can file for bankruptcy protection to get out of debt; with the exception of drunk driving offenses.
For example, assuming Dingle does not have auto insurance, the victims’ families will most likely collect nothing from her. Dingle, who was reported to have lived under a bridge for years and is facing serious prison time, is clearly lacking personal assets.
There has been an outpour of public support from the community for the grieving families of the St. Clair Shores teens, Jordan Michalak, 16; Erica Marie Haudek, 15; Devon Spurlock, 19; and Stephanie Currie, 16; including a $47,000 fundraiser donation from Texas Roadhouse in Roseville.
Our auto accident lawyers are sending their most sincere thoughts and prayers to the families of the Lake Shore High School students. In the meantime, we’ll be happy to review your insurance coverage and make recommendations, so you are protected in case of a tragic accident.
To request a free, no obligation case evaluation from an experienced auto accident attorney, please fill out our consultation form and we will respond to your inquiry within one business day. Or to speak to an attorney immediately, please call (800) 777-0028.
— Steve Gursten is recognized as one of the nation’s top attorneys handling serious car and truck accident injury cases and automobile insurance no-fault litigation. Steve has received the largest jury verdict for an automobile accident case in Michigan in four of the past seven years, including 2008.
Michigan Auto Law exclusively handles car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state of Michigan. We have offices in Southfield, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights. For more information, please read our law firm quick facts.