Auto_Accidentsby Stephen M. Young, Esq.

steve@hamptonpigott.com

Do you know what auto insurance will cover if you are injured in an accident? Often, I receive calls from people who have been in an accident and don’t know what to do or where to start. If you have any specific questions, call an experienced personal injury attorney who can provide personal guidance.  In the meantime, here is some basic information to help you figuring out what your auto insurance will cover.

If you are injured as the result of someone else’s negligent or reckless driving, you should always find out their insurance information. If you call their insurance company to set up a claim, they will ask you a series of questions. If you have an attorney, I would consult with him or her before answering any of those questions. However, you can gain valuable information when talking to an insurance adjuster.

Begin by reporting that there was an accident and asking what the Bodily Injury (“BI”) limits are. The state of Colorado requires that all drivers maintain minimum coverage, which, in Colorado, is a $25,000/$50,000 policy. The first number, $25,000, is how much money is available to each person (not including the driver that hit you). The second number is the amount available to the entire car. So if there are three people in your car who are injured and each case is worth $25,000, the negligent driver’s insurance will have to divide the $50,000 amongst the three injured individuals. If there are two people injured, one with a case for $27,000 and the other for $20,000, the first person will receive $25,000 and the second will receive $20,000. However, if you are injured, it does not mean that you are automatically qualified to receive $25,000.

You should also call your own auto insurance and report that there was an accident. When you do that, you can gain valuable information about your own insurance, too. In the event that the negligent driver does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to cover the value of your claim, you may be able to rely on your own insurance. Even though someone else hit and injured you, it may be that you have insured yourself against other people.

When buying insurance, an auto insurer will ask if you want underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage (“UM/UIM”). If you have uninsured motorist (“UIM”) coverage and the negligent driver doesn’t have insurance, your insurance will act as though the negligent driver had insurance up to the limits that you chose. If the other driver did have insurance but not enough to cover the cost of your claims, you can use your underinsured motorist (“UM”) coverage to recover the full amount owed from your own insurance, up to the policy limits that you chose.

The final amount thing you should ask your insurance is whether you have medical payments coverage (“MP”). MP coverage is useful for paying medical bills that you accrue during your treatment – even if the other driver is responsible! If you have MP coverage, you’ve paid for it and can use it without having to worry about who will pay your bills. Again, you have to choose the limits of your MP coverage and the insurance company will only pay for the amount you have chosen. So, if you have a $6,000 emergency room bill and only $5,000 of MP coverage, they will only pay $5,000. However, if you find an experienced personal injury attorney, they may be able to use the MP coverage to your advantage by negotiating a settlement with your medical providers.

I hope this information is helpful in figuring out what auto insurance will cover. This is intended for educational purposes only. If you are seriously injured in an accident, please contact an experienced personal injury attorney who you trust. Dealing with insurance companies can be an unwanted stress in an already stressful period in your life. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call me and I will help if I can.