I had the joy of helping a sweet, spunky 80-year-old (who still cuts her own grass!). My client, who asked to keep her identity confidential, got a car accident settlement largely funded by her own car insurance, which isn’t terribly unusual in my cases.

What made this case truly unique was that she wasn’t even in a car when she got hit. She was sitting in a restaurant.

On June 21, 2019, around 2:20 in the afternoon, she went to a restaurant on Highway 9 in Spartanburg County. She’d just sat down to eat at a table near the front window.

That’s when the at-fault driver slammed into the building, right where my client sat. The massive impact shattered bricks, mortar, metal, and tile all around her. The impact shockwave broke her chair, throwing her violently onto her right side.

That broke her right hip, requiring an operation to install pins to hold it together. This was followed by a five-day hospital stay and a summer consumed by pain, debilitation, doctor visits, and physical therapy.

Insurance Coverage Outlook Is Initially Bleak—Until We Uncover a Huge Break

A key element of any car accident case is how much liability insurance the at-fault driver has. Luckily, South Carolina law allows me to find out. The result was deflating. There was only $25,000—nowhere near enough.

The biggest break in the case was actually due to my client’s wisdom long before she ever got in a crash. She’d wisely purchased underinsurance, or UIM, on her own auto policy. UIM is designed to protect you when the at-fault driver has insufficient liability insurance to cover your injuries.

Better yet, for my client, UIM doesn’t require you to be in a car you own.  

Even better, UIM doesn’t require you to be in a car at all. It covered my client because she got hit by a car—it didn’t matter that she was sitting in a restaurant when it happened.

Best of all, she protected herself well. She had $100,000 in coverage.

She needed every bit of it. After I presented our demand letter and settlement package to both insurance companies, they paid their limits for a total settlement of $125,000. Next, I negotiated a reduction in Medicare’s reimbursement claim for the medical bills it paid.

The bottom line for my client was, she ended up with way more settlement money than she ever expected.

Why You Should Hire an Attorney If You’re Seriously Injured in a Car Accident

The lesson here is, if my client hadn’t hired me, she would’ve never known about the extra insurance coverage on her own policy that made all the difference in her case. There’s a lot of other reasons to hire an attorney for a car or motorcycle accident—read more here.

Like many clients, my client was initially a little reluctant to seek an attorney. She’s never been the type to sue. But she was overwhelmed handling her injuries, the insurance company representative, and she didn’t know how to strategize a proper settlement.

In the end, she told me she was thankful and even amazed by how well we treated her—and how well it turned out.


Rob Usry
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Rob is a Spartanburg personal injury lawyer. Rob also practices as a workers' compensation attorney.