It may not seem obvious from all the fine print on your insurance policy that insurers have limits to the amount of money that can be claimed by accident victims. Insurance companies set these limits as the maximum they will pay out to one of their customers if that person causes an accident. Regardless of the extent or severity of the injuries caused, this maximum amount is fixed.
This may make you wonder, “what if I am hit by someone and that driver’s policy limits aren’t high enough to cover all my needs?” These needs can certainly add up – not just medical costs to treat the injuries, but actual and estimated future lost wages, and damages are a few things to consider. This is where a good attorney can help find money from places beyond the defendant’s insurance policy.
As Bellingham’s best personal injury lawyer, I am familiar with other settlement options. Here are a few ways I go about it for my clients:
- Un/underinsured motorist coverage: many Washington car insurance policies include uninsured motorist coverage. An uninsured or underinsured driver is one whose car insurance liability limit either doesn’t exist or is minimal. Settlement funds will quickly be exhausted through such a policy. However, the hurt driver’s insurance policy can cover their injuries once the at-fault driver’s policies have been reached. For example, say the at-fault driver’s policy limits are fixed at $50,000 per accident. You are hit by them in a car crash, and your medical expenses cost $100,000. You can go after your own insurer for this difference through your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. More on uninsured/underinsured motorist protection here.
- Health insurance coverage: Health insurance can be used to pay medical expenses. The catch is that many times the health insurance company will request to be reimbursed from the accident settlement before the difference is paid out to the injured person.
- Medical providers: A good attorney can advocate for low payment plans and discounted rates for their injuried clients from the medical providers themselves.
- Personal insurance protection (or personal injury protection or PIP): Also called “no-fault” coverage, PIP can pay out a claim regardless of fault in the accident. It is another optional extension of car insurance that covers medical expenses and lost wages.
My “better safe than sorry” advice to folks before they’re involved in a car crash is to make sure you buy reasonably high liability limits just in case. This helps to make sure your policy will pay out a satisfactory settlement without having to go after your personal assets. This advice extends to homeowners insurance policies also.
Dealing with an accident or injury is a grueling task. If you or a loved one is in the wake of such a life-changing event, let an experienced accident attorney fight for full and fair compensation on your behalf. When you have a professional on your side, it’s common to walk away with a settlement five to ten times higher than if you tried to go it alone. I represent accident victims in Bellingham and Whatcom County, and charge nothing up front. Call me for a free consultation, at (360) 392-2833.