June 7, 2021
What Can I Claim After A Car Accident?
All vehicles driven on public roads in virtually all states must have liability insurance coverage in effect. The liability insurance covers the costs of damages and injuries suffered by others during a car accident, but only up to policy limits. The idea is to ensure others do not suffer financially for the mistakes made by motorists and trigger the need for an experienced car accident lawyer.
Car insurance provides much more that liability insurance protection. With all 50 states plus U.S. territories having their own respective car insurance laws in place, it is not always clear just what accident victims lawfully can claim after a car accident. The following information should help to clarify how the auto insurance claims process works and what victims can claim after a car accident.
Property Damage Claims
When a driver hits someone’s vehicle or other people’s property otherwise suffers damage from the motorist’s faulty driving, property damage liability covers the costs of those damages up to the policy limits. The insurance policy on the insured vehicle whose driver was at fault in an accident that caused property damage will pay for property damage suffered by others.
Liability insurance does not protect the insured vehicle against property damage. Liability coverage only protects the vehicle’s owner against liability for property damage or personal injuries that occur.
In order to file a claim for property damage, the other driver must be at fault and his or her liability insurance pays for property damages that the motorist suffered. A victim also could file a claim for property damages if they have collision and comprehensive insurance, more popularly called full coverage.
Full coverage auto insurance is a combination of liability insurance plus at least collision and comprehensive insurance to protect the insured vehicle and its contents. If drivers have full coverage, they can file a claim to cover the property damage, minus any deductibles that might apply.
Personal Injuries Claims
When a driver or the passengers suffer injuries from an accident and obtain medical care, the costs could be covered by bodily injury liability coverage up to policy limits. The limits are twofold. One policy limit applies to a maximum amount available for the costs of injuries to an individual. The other policy limit applies to total costs for an accident no matter how many people were injured or their total combined costs.
When another motorist is at fault in an accident, his or her bodily injury liability coverage should provide up to the policy limits for injury coverage per individual. If more than one person is injured, the bodily injury liability coverage should pay costs up to the policy limits per individual as well as policy limits per event.
Those costs include ambulance service, emergency room care, and hospitalization if needed. They also include follow-up care, physical therapy, loss of income, and pain and suffering, among other injuries that people might legitimately suffer during a car accident.
Some Medical Costs Might be Covered
Some drivers might have a medical payments rider that pays up to a modest sum to obtain medical services. In many instances, the medical costs rider offers up to $5,000 in insurance coverage so that people can obtain emergency services. The cost of an ambulance ride to the hospital and emergency room costs can be very high.
Those who have additional coverage for medical costs on their auto insurance can claim up to policy limits the costs of obtaining medical treatment for any injuries suffered. Most people already have health insurance coverage that will pay for many of the medical costs for treating injuries.
The health care costs that are not covered by a driver’s personal health insurance, such as deductibles and costs that exceed policy limits, could be covered by a medical costs rider on an auto insurance policy. Limitations always apply, including the policy limits on medical costs coverage that the driver might have added to their auto insurance policy. An experienced car accident lawyer can help drivers understand which costs should be covered by their car insurance plan.
No-Fault States Handle Personal Injuries Differently
About a dozen U.S. states, including Pennsylvania, have no-fault auto insurance laws that ensure accident victims have auto insurance protection to help pay for damages and injuries. No-fault auto insurance is designed to greatly reduce legal fights among motorists by ensuring all parties are covered up to policy limits.
If one driver is at fault, the liability insurance kicks in and compensates victims up to policy limits. If the costs of injuries and property damage exceed the liability amounts in effect on the at-fault vehicle, the no-fault auto insurance protection takes care of the rest, up to policy limits.
The dual layer of protection helps to ensure all accident victims have access to medical care and insurance protection to cover the costs. It does not ensure all costs are covered, especially when truly catastrophic injuries occur and render one or more accident victims significantly affected for life.
A partial or total paralysis arising from a car accident would be a good example of accident injuries that carry very high costs. Several no-fault auto insurance states also have catastrophic loss funds that ensure such accident victims and their families can cover the ongoing costs of health care without the family enduring a significant decrease in standard of living.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Claims
An often highly useful auto insurance protection is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. The optional insurance coverage provides an additional layer of financial protection for motorists. When another motorist causes an accident and does not have enough insurance coverage to pay for all costs for the accident victims, the underinsured motorist coverage will pay claims up to policy limits. Those claims could be medical costs, property damage costs, or a combination of both.
The uninsured motorist coverage applies when a vehicle whose driver causes an accident does not have any insurance coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage also applies in hit-and-run cases in which the offending driver flees the scene of an accident and cannot be found. In such cases, the uninsured motorist coverage will pay legitimate claims up to policy limits.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is so useful that many states require motorists to carry it, whereas several other states require auto insurers to offer it as an option to liability or full-coverage auto insurance plans. Many states require auto insurers to automatically include a minimal amount of uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage whenever underwriting new or renewed policies. Customers must sign forms declining the coverage if they do not want it.
Building the Best Case for Accident Claims
The complexities of auto insurance coverage and the differing laws in various states make it important to obtain legal assistance whenever conflicts arise following an accident. Even if everything seems to go smoothly, hidden dangers often exist.
Those hidden dangers oftentimes include auto insurers who make modest offers to accident victims and greatly reduce any potential payouts. If a driver is in an accident and obtains a lawyer, insurers must communicate through the lawyer. That can help victims improve their situation instead of dealing with combative or underhanded insurers who are not looking out for the victim’s best interests.
Norristown Car Accident Lawyers at Anthony C. Gagliano III, P.C. Advocate for Car Accident Victims
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, the experienced Norristown car accident lawyers at Anthony C. Gagliano III, P.C. can review the circumstances that led up to an accident and help you to build the best possible case while putting a halt to unsavory insurer practices. Learn more about how we can help by calling 267-861-7100 or visiting our website to set up a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients in Philadelphia, Montgomery County, Delaware County, and Norristown.