It is that time again. Time to assess our lives and look for ways to improve in the new year. While losing weight is usually the most popular resolution, we wanted to give you some things to consider from a legal perspective.
1. Evaluate your uninsured/underinsured insurance coverage. I know. Yawn. But, in the event you are injured in an accident, the type of insurance you have and the amount of your coverage can make a critical difference to you and your family.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage protects you in the event the person or company who causes your injuries either does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to compensate you. For example, let’s assume you are involved in a car accident with a person who only has mandatory minimum liability coverage of $25,000, but your medical bills are $75,000 and your injuries prevent you from returning to work for 3 months. Clearly, the value of your claim greatly exceeds the at-fault party’s $25,000 in coverage. In this situation, your own underinsured coverage could help make up the difference in your compensation. Without your underinsured coverage, unless the at-fault party has assets (which is unlikely — otherwise, they would almost certainly have more insurance coverage), you would not receive adequate compensation for your injuries.
This statistic may encourage you to understand uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage and purchase a level of coverage appropriate for your household. More than one out of every five cars you meet on the roadway in Tennessee have no liability insurance whatsoever. Of the four that have liability insurance coverage, one of them will have the state minimum of $25,000 per person. Thus, if you are in a wreck caused by another driver and end up hospitalized for as little as two days the odds are quite high that the at-fault driver will not have sufficient insurance coverage to pay your medical bills, much less pay for the other damages you incur.
2. Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home and regularly replace batteries for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
3. Be a safe driver. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t text and drive. Wear your seatbelt and keep your vehicle in good repair.
4. Register new products with the manufacturer. By doing so, your contact information will be in their database so they can alert you to any recalls or technical issues. For products in which registration is not offered, check the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission site from time to time for any recalls.
5. Wear a helmet when bicycling, skate-boarding, roller-blading, etc to reduce the possibility of serious brain injuries.
6. If you are fortunate enough to have a pool, take some time to make sure it is adequately fenced and gated to prevent children from accidentally falling in. And, ensure that all drain covers are in good condition and comply with the Virginia Graeme Baker Act.
7. If you do not have a will, power of attorney, durable health care power of attorney and living will, then take the time to have these documents prepared. In the event of a catastrophic injury or death, they can help make things easier for your family. If you already have these documents, you should review them on a yearly basis to make sure they still accurately reflect your desires and intentions.
While we do not handle this type of work, we know several qualified lawyers who can help you and would be happy to make a referral. Most people are pleasantly surprised at the cost associated with preparing these documents and think it is well worth gaining the peace of mind associated with knowing this important planning is in place.
8. Adequately control your dogs. There are approximately 4.7 million dog bites or attacks each year, and these types of dog-related injuries are the most common cause of claims on homeowner’s insurance.
9. Prepare a short summary of your medical history complete with any current medications and make sure your spouse, friend or family member has a copy. In the event you are incapacitated in an accident, the summary can be indispensable to medical providers who are providing you treatment.
10. If you or a loved one is injured in an accident and need to hire a lawyer, be sure to hire the right lawyer. We have developed a checklist to help you select a qualified personal injury lawyer. The lawyer you hire makes a difference.
May your new year be filled with happiness and may you be blessed with good health. For more tips during the upcoming year, subscribe to this site by clicking on the button to the right of this post.