Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 16, 2020

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Barry J. Simon, a former insurance defense attorney who has spent nearly the past 30 years as a tort litigator representing victims against insurance and other large companies, explained how you can avoid small settlements and protect yourself against drivers who carry too little insurance – or no insurance at all.

Avoid small settlements

Car accident victims can take action to avoid small settlements, according to Simon, who told us:

I always recommend to someone who gets in an accident they go to see a doctor if they are hurt and call an attorney immediately because insurance companies try to take advantage of people, take their recorded statement without a lawyer, pin them down on facts that maybe they didn’t mean to say and then try to offer them a small amount of money.

Protect yourself against underinsured & uninsured drivers 

Prop 213, California’s Financial Responsibility Law, requires drivers to carry liability insurance in order to recover pain and suffering or general damages. While there is a minimum coverage amount, Simon told us that he recommends carrying more:

I always recommend people carry a large policy, not the minimum (15/30) because it doesn’t cost much more. Insurance companies won’t tell you this, but it doesn’t cost much more to have at least 100/300 liability and uninsured motorist policy and preferably higher (such as 500,000 single limit). This protects you in case of a serious injury or in case you cause somebody else serious injury.

Everyone should have liability insurance and uninsured motorist insurance, which also covers you if the driver that hits you is under insured. I get a lot of calls about people that really weren’t hurt, but they have property damage. In those cases, I give them free advice, but I don’t take the case unless they are significantly hurt. A lot of people ask me why can’t I pursue the claim because they could have been killed, but you have to have actual damages to sue somebody, not speculative damages.

Have you been injured?

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, contact an experienced auto accident lawyer to discuss your situation. However, keep in mind that there’s a two-year Statute of Limitations to file an auto accident lawsuit if you’re going to litigate – and that also applies to wrongful death actions.