By David Olan
“Traffic accident on PCH at Topanga Canyon Boulevard has closed both eastbound lanes. Expect major delays. . .”
“Traffic accident on PCH at Big Rock blocking both directions of PCH. Expect delays. . .”
“Both westbound lanes and (1) eastbound lane are currently blocked at the 21000 block of PCH due to a traffic collision. . .”
These are just three of the ongoing traffic advisories posted on the City of Malibu Emergency Services website in the last month. Those of us who live and/or work in Malibu know that traffic collisions, whether they are motor vehicle collisions, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, or bicycle accidents, are too common.No one wants to be in an accident, but if it happens, we wondered, how could we best prepare? We decided to ask Malibu resident and Santa Monica trial lawyer David Olan what, if anything, we could do to prepare for the worst.
“I’ve been a trial lawyer for more than 25 years,” says Olan. “If there is one thing I would advise each person to do, it would be to increase their uninsured motorist insurance to the highest level their insurance company would allow.”
“The cost of protection is pennies to the dollar,” says Olan, “The more you have, the better protected you are should you suffer serious personal injuries or lose a loved one in a wrongful death.”
As you would expect, uninsured motorist insurance kicks in if the other driver is uninsured. What few people realize is that uninsured motorist insurance also protects you if the other driver carries limited car insurance. It also protects you if you are a passenger in the car that was hit, if you were a pedestrian who was hit, or in a bicycle accident.
Olan explains that too often he has handled accidents in which a passenger, pedestrian, or bicyclist has suffered serious personal injuries, or wrongful death accidents, when someone has lost a loved one. Medical expenses could be in the thousands of dollars, with many more thousands of dollars expected in the future. In a wrongful death, if the family’s breadwinner is killed, the family may be left with a precarious financial future.
Yet, regardless of the losses you incurred, the other driver’s insurance company is only responsible for reimbursing you to the extent of the other driver’s policy limits.
“Even if we obtain a $1 million award or more, if the other driver only has the minimum liability insurance California requires (which is $15,000 for the injury or death of one person), that is all the insurance company pays. In a serious accident, that doesn’t begin to cover your medical bills, much less your lost wages and benefits and so on,” says Olan.
Whatever uninsured motorist insurance you carry is activated at the point the other driver’s insurance stops, explains Olan.
“Most car insurance policies include some uninsured motorist insurance, but it’s rarely enough,” says Olan. “If I have one piece of advice for people, it is to increase your uninsured motorist insurance to the highest level your insurance company allows.”
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