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Overview — California Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Law

California Insurance Code §1158.02 requires every automobile insurer issuing a policy in the State of California to make available uninsured-underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM).

This coverage can be found on the Declarations Page of your personal auto policy. It is the most important part in your policy because it protects you and your family.

Here is how it works:

Assume you have a motor vehicle accident and suffer serious injury. Assume further the at-fault driver has inadequate coverage to meet his responsibility. Your UM/UIM policy will step in and pay for all the harms the at-fault driver would have had to pay you up to the limits of your coverage, minus whatever coverage the at-fault driver paid to you.

The scope and utility of this coverage cannot be understated. It will cover you no matter where or how the accident occurs as long as the harm occurs to you or a member of your household by a negligently operated vehicle that is either uninsured or underinsured. Thus, it will cover your child riding a bicycle to school, your daughter who may be a passenger in her boyfriend's car, you in a taxi, your husband crossing the street to get a sandwich at Subway. Bottom line, you do not have to be in the insured vehicle. You just must be hurt by a vehicle that does not have enough coverage.

If you suffer a serious injury in a motor vehicle accident, the sad probability is that the at-fault driver will not have enough coverage to make you whole. It, therefore, becomes imperative that you shop and buy the highest limits your budget will allow.

The most cost-effective way to do this is to place $500,000 of liability and uninsured motorist coverage in your primary auto policy. With the same carrier, buy an umbrella, aka excess policy, endorsed for uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage for anywhere between $1,000,000 and $5,000,000. You will be astounded by how relatively inexpensive it is to move your coverage to these higher limits. The additional cost is hundreds of dollars per year, not thousands.

You are encouraged, as well, each year to get three competing quotes from different insurers. You can be assured the same coverage will have a several hundred dollar spread between the high and the low.

Remember to check your policy once in hand to confirm particularly your umbrella, aka excess policy, has been endorsed for uninsured motorist coverage. Remember — insurance companies do not particularly like this coverage part because it is good for you and bad for them. They sell it because they are required to by the state. They are mandated to include it in the primary auto policy, but are not required to have it in the excess policy, which is why you are encouraged to double-check the umbrella when it has been received, to verify it has been endorsed for UM/UIM coverage.

Procedure for filing a claim against UM/UIM coverage

From a procedural standpoint, once you have established the at-fault driver has inadequate coverage and you have fully recovered the limits of your coverage, that then triggers your UM/UIM benefit. If the settlement cannot be negotiated between you and your insurer on the value of your claim, the matter is resolved by binding arbitration before a retired judge, usually within a matter of months. The same discovery proceedings occur in the arbitration that would occur as though the matter were going to be tried to a jury in the Supreme Court. The only difference is the case is presented to the retired judge, who issues a binding ruling reflecting what in the judge's estimate would have been the jury's determination of the value of your claim.

The elements of your claim include all past and future medical required by the accident-related injury, all past and future wage loss, including loss of retirement should you be compelled to retire, and, lastly, all past and future non-economic harms including physical impairment, pain, emotional distress, anxiety, grief and compromise in the quality of your life secondary to the injury. Therefore, these uninsured/underinsured motorist claims have values comparable to typical liability cases tried to jury and are not restricted or capitated in the way claims are somanaged in workers' compensation.

Congratulations to our friends at the Lanier Law Firm

Dallas Jury Returns $1 Billion Plus Verdict In Defective DePuy Hip Implants Lawsuit

Posted BY Attorney Mark Lanier on December 1, 2016

Third MDL bellwether trial sends strong message

DALLAS – A federal jury in Dallas has returned a combined verdict of more than $1 billion on behalf of six people who suffered serious medical complications caused by defective metal-on-metal hip implants made by Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) and its subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics Inc.

The verdict includes more than $30 million in actual damages for the six plaintiffs and more than $1 billion in punitive damages assessed against Johnson & Johnson and DePuy.

The verdict is the third bellwether trial among thousands of similar lawsuits nationwide that have been consolidated in multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. A bellwether trial is one that is typically representative of all the issues involved in the litigation of a mass tort case. In March 2016, a Dallas jury awarded more than $500 million to five individuals who suffered similar physical and medical complications caused by the controversial Pinnacle hip implant.

"Once again, a jury has listened to the testimony of both sides, and returned a verdict affirming what we've known all along: a responsible company would settle these cases and take care of their injured consumers, rather than forcing them through expensive and vexatious litigation just to delay justice," said lead attorney Mark Lanier of the Lanier Law Firm in Houston. "This jury spoke loud and clear, and I hope J&J will finally listen."

The case is IN RE: DePuy Orthopaedics Inc., Pinnacle Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation, MDL 3:11-md-0244

The Pinnacle implant was designed with a metal, rather than a safer ceramic or polyethylene, socket. The metal-on-metal design causes the socket to rub against the ball head, which can lead to corrosion and can cause bone and surrounding tissue to erode over time. Each of the six plaintiffs in the trial had to undergo revision surgeries to replace the implants and repair the damage. Jurors heard testimony that Johnson & Johnson and DePuy aggressively marketed the implants and employed tactics that included paying kickbacks to surgeons for using the device although they were aware of safer alternatives.

A fourth bellwether trial, which will involve 10 patients, has been scheduled by U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade in Dallas for September, 2017.