When making a personal injury claim resulting from a car accident the plaintiff will rarely go after an individual, for the most part, you will only look to collect on whatever car insurance coverage is available. For this reason, it is incredibly helpful to have an understanding of how car insurance works, both your own and whomever caused the accident. So, in order to help you understand we have described what we look for when making a claim on your behalf and why. The types of coverage that will be discussed are Medical Payments Coverage, Liability Insurance, Underinsured Motorist Coverage, and Uninsured Motorist Coverage.
Medical Payments Coverage
The first thing we look for when you come into our office is whether or not you have Medical
Payments Coverage on your policy. Medical Payments Coverage is provided by your insurer and benefits you. In short, this coverage provides that your car insurance will pay up to a certain amount for any medical bills you incur due to an accident, usually in an amount of $1,000 or $5,000. You have two options for this coverage. You can either have your medical providers submit your bills to your car insurance and have them pay out your bill or you can send the bills to your car insurance company and have them send a check straight to you.
If you have Health Insurance we usually recommend that you have your medical providers bill your health insurance and then have your Car Insurance send you the check for the Medical Payments Coverage. This puts a small amount of money in your pocket right away, which may be needed if you are unable to work. Personal Injury claims can take a substantial amount of time to settle so that Medical Payments Coverage money may be all that you have access to until we are able to reach a settlement agreement with the insurance company.
If on the other hand you do not have Health Insurance then we usually recommend that you have your medical providers send the bills to your Car Insurance company.
It should be noted that any amount paid out under your Medical Payments Coverage has to be paid back once a final settlement is reached. If you have an attorney the amount that has to be paid back is reduced by 1/3 plus pro-rata costs in accordance with Indiana Code, section 34-53-1-2.
Liability Insurance is probably the insurance you are most familiar with. This is the coverage everyone is required to have which pays for any property damage or medical bills of whomever the insured party hits, up to the provided coverage limits. So if you hit someone else, they will come after your liability insurance. If you get hit by someone else you will make a claim against their insurance and you will be able to recover an amount up to whatever the at-fault party’s insurance limits are. Indiana law requires that Liability insurance is at least $25,000 per person in bodily injury coverage and $50,000 per accident as well as $10,000 in property damage per accident.
So what happens if you are hit by an uninsured driver or someone who has minimum coverage where your injuries are substantial? Well, if you are hit by an Uninsured Motorist the Uninsured Motorist Coverage on your policy will apply and if you are hit by someone with policy limits that are lower than your own your Underinsured Motorist Coverage will kick in if the at-fault party’s coverage limits are exhausted. These coverages are both required to be included in your coverage by Indiana Code section 27-7-5-2 unless you specifically waive them, which we do not recommend in any circumstance. A more in-depth explanation of these coverages is listed below.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
If you are hit by an Uninsured Motorist or the person who hits you leaves the scene without you being able to collect enough information to identify them (hit-and-run) then your insurance be liable for any injuries you sustain, up to the limits of your Uninsured Motorist Coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage is also required to be provided by your insurance provider at an amount equal to your own liability limits, so if you purchase a $25,000/$50,000 minimum policy your uninsured motorist coverage will be the same unless you’ve specified you wanted it to be higher. In order to make a claim against your own Uninsured Motorist Coverage you will have to prove that the driver who hit you was uninsured, but in most instances, we are able to do that fairly easily.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage
If you are hit by a driver who has lower coverage amounts than you have purchased through your insurance and you have exhausted their policy limits then you will be allowed to make a claim under your own Underinsured Motorist Coverage. For instance, if you’re in an accident and the person who hit you has $25,000 in liability coverage and you have Underinsured Motorist Coverage of $50,000, if your injuries are severe enough that they warrant you recovering all $25,000 of the at-fault party’s liability coverage plus more, then you will be able to make a claim against your Underinsured Motorist Policy for the difference between the two policies, so $25,000. According to Indiana Code, Section 27-7-5-2.