Is there a Rule About How Much can be Paid by Underinsured Motorists?



I was involved in an auto accident in June 2002 in the state of Indiana. Accident was the other drivers fault – failure to yield per police report. I had bulging disks in fall of 2001, went through physical therapy, was fine, had the accident where I was hit from the side and then pushed into a light pole on the other side and hit it. Started having problems in lower back right away. Condition was aggravated.
Went through physcial therapy, then started having trouble with shoulder in Sept. 2002. Was finally diagnosed with pinched nerve, one of the disks that had been bulging had ruptured. Had surgery to clean up rupture. Surgeon stated was caused by auto accident.
Insured person was insured through her fiance, USAA is insurance company. He got the plan in Oklahoma where minimum coverage is only $10,000. Company is checking to see if clause that would make the coverage $25,000 – the minimum in Indiana. Medical bills are around $17,000.
Was told I will have to go to my insurance for underinsured motorist coverage which I have. Is the normal still 3 times the medical bills? Who gets paid first? The insurance companies for medical or the person for the pain and suffering?
I was also off work for 2 months, I have short-term disability through my employer and was paid for the time off through that. BCBS is my health insurance provider that paid the bills for the surgery.

–Chris, Bunker Hill, IN


Your only real remedy appears to be Underinsured Motorist Coverage. You have seen first hand why it is so critical for everyone to obtain a high level of UIM coverage. It protects you from most of the people who are underinsured on the roads.
There is no rule that says a case is worth three times medical bills. Plus, the UIM carrier is supposed to compensate you for pain and suffering and the medical bills.