10 Nov Your Car Records Everything, Uninsured Driving, Tarun’s Birthday
Welcome to the Newsletter
Rana Law Group Newsletter
In this issue:
- Your Car Records Everything
- Risks of Uninsured Driving
- Tarun’s Birthday
Your Car Records Everything
Many of you probably heard about the chip shortages and how they are limiting the supply of new vehicles on the market. Unfortunately, for clients who were in a wreck and need a replacement vehicle, it has been tough to get new or used vehicles because of these shortages. The shortages made me think about how newer cars are now built to be part vehicle, part computer. The technology can be new and exciting but, from a litigation standpoint, the information logged by the vehicle’s computer is obtainable for use in litigation. People probably realize our cars record things like GPS and speed but consumers may not realize that once a smartphone is connected to the vehicle, the car can also record call logs, contacts, text messages and social media information.
Basically, everything on a phone may be saved in the vehicle’s computer system. This also includes other people’s phones who connect to the vehicle’s USB to charge or play music. Their data is also stored and guests can be classified as “known associates”. Governments can purchase digital forensic software from companies like MSAB to extract this information from a vehicle. Even more terrifying, a rental car was tested and had sensitive information from nearly a hundred cell phones and federal agents were able to read posts and text messages from unwitting renters. When cell phone companies refuse to unlock phones, this technology allows law enforcement to circumvent that fight and get the data directly from the suspect’s vehicle, sometimes without a warrant. From a law enforcement standpoint, the information obtained could help put away criminals who are unaware their information is being logged. However, from a civil liberties standpoint, I have concerns because many consumers are probably unaware all of their information is being stored, simply by connecting their phone to a vehicle. This knowledge certainly gives me pause when my car asks me if I would like to share iPhone contacts or dictate a reply to a text message.
Risks of Uninsured Driving
I recently completed a case where my client was hit by an uninsured driver and was forced to use her own auto insurance for the claim since the other driver did not have insurance. She paid her deductible for the property damage and then made a claim for her injuries under the uninsured motorist coverage available on her policy. In Missouri, if you have auto insurance, you automatically have uninsured coverage but it is optional (extra) in Illinois.
While the injury portion was settled to my client’s satisfaction, she still had to deal with trying to get the deductible back directly from the uninsured driver since she had a net loss in that department. The good news is that even though she used her own auto insurance, her insurance could not raise her rates for making the claim since the crash was not her fault. This is one of the main reasons I tell people to ensure they have full coverage (if their vehicle warrants full coverage) and to have sufficient uninsured AND underinsured coverage. Unfortunately, even before the pandemic, there were many drivers driving without valid insurance and the problem has only become worse recently. Moreover, there is the added issue of ride share/food delivery drivers neglecting to notify their insurance they are working which sometimes voids their insurance coverage because otherwise they would be charged higher insurance premiums.
Switching to the uninsured driver, she probably figured she was in the clear because she did not have auto insurance. To her surprise, she received a letter from my client’s automobile insurance carrier stating she owed more than $27,000. Imagine getting a bill for that amount after getting into an at-fault accident. For those with insurance, their insurance will handle it but, for those driving without valid insurance, this scenario is a real possibility.
After settling my client’s claim for full value, the insurance company referred the case over to their subrogation unit whose purpose is to recover the money they paid out on behalf of my client. The basis for their recovery is they had to pay out money in a situation which should have been covered by the at-fault driver’s insurance, however, since she was uninsured, my client’s insurance company had to pay. In the past, I had not heard about too many insurance companies going after an uninsured driver but, lately, I have heard of more instances of them going after the uninsured driver directly. Traditionally, insurance companies did not want to throw good money after bad by pursuing uninsured drivers who may not be able to pay a judgment or could easily file bankruptcy, however, insurance companies are doing so with greater frequency to pursue another potential revenue stream.
For those who risk driving uninsured, know there could be a sizable bill coming your way if you choose to risk it. A judgment of the size the uninsured driver received will likely lead her to ruin her credit score and ultimately file for bankruptcy. The cost of insurance would likely have been less than a $100 per month to avoid this huge bill. For those driving with insurance or planning on getting insurance, feel free to call our office if you would like a complementary review of your insurance coverages.
I recently had a birthday and was happy to celebrate in person with family this year vs. the ‘Birthday Zoom’ I had last year. I requested an ice cream cake and was surprised with my favorite combo, pistachio and chocolate! This is my standard order at Ted Drewes – a chocolate concrete with pistachio as my mix in. This was a fun variation in cake form! Thank you to my wonderful wife for what I will likely forever hear was a giant pain to make. At least the end product was worth it and picture-perfect!