How Auto Insurance Works When Making An Injury Claim
Making an injury claim the correct way will maximize the amount available to compensate you for your injuries.With the right combination of Medical Payments Coverage, Liability Insurance, and Under/Uninsured Motorist Coverage you'll get everything you deserve or at least everything available.
Medical Payments CoverageDepending on your insurance policy you may have medical payments coverage, which can either be used to pay your medical bills directly or be sent directly to you to use as you please. The amount of this coverage usually ranges from $1,000 - $10,000, but I've seen policies that go as high as $25,000.
To be clear, this is coverage supplied by your insurance policy, which requires your insurance company to pay medical expenses incurred by you as a result of injuries sustained in an auto accident. Most of these policies are ambiguous as to who the payment is to be made to, so you can get it sent directly to you as opposed to your providers, which is what I recommend doing so long as you have health insurance to pay your medical bills.
The only downside to medical payments coverage is that it must be paid back out of final settlement due to the subrogation interest held by your insurance company. In Indiana, however, we have a lien reduction statute that requires the insurance company to reduce their subrogation interest by 1/3, plus a pro-rata share of the costs in order to compensate the attorney, which means you gain 1/3 of your medical payments coverage as compensation.
Liability InsuranceWhomever was at fault in the accident should have liability insurance which will pay your medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional damage, etc. Of course you'll need to show that the insured was indeed at fault, that your medical treatment, time off work, and emotional damages were related to the accident, but that's fairly simple in most case for a personal injury lawyer to show.
In Indiana minimum coverage requirements are $25,000 per person injured and $50,000 per accident. This means you will have a minimum of $25,000 in additional coverage to seek compensation for your injuries from, with a likelihood of there being more since the average policy is $50,000/$100,000.
Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist CoverageBack to your policy again, if the at-fault party has less available insurance than what you carry in underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage, then you'll be able to make another claim against your own policy in order to be fully compensated.
In Indiana Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist Coverage is required to be included in your coverage unless you've waived it in a separate writing. It is also required that these coverages match the amount you carry in liability insurance, unless waived.
This means if you have a policy that provides for $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident you'll have a minimum of $100,000 available to you. It should be noted that the liability insurance and underinsured motorist coverage don't stack, your underinsured coverage simply covers the difference between the available liability insurance of the at-fault party and what you carry on your policy in order to compensate you in accordance with the coverage you hold. This is meant to encourage people to carry higher coverage limits.
Also, when you make a claim against your underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage, the med-pay subrogation interest is usually waived.