What Happens If Your Auto Accident Injuries Far Exceed Personal Injury Protection Limits?

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If you've recently been injured in an auto accident, you may have been far more focused on your physical injuries (and what it may take to recover physically) than on the legal or financial aspects of your claim. Unraveling the "who pays?" question can often be both a literal and a figurative pain in the neck, and financial and insurance matters may be the last thing you want to deal with when facing physical difficulties. However, failing to press hard upon certain issues early in the settlement process could result in you leaving money on the table, and settling for a lower amount than you've incurred in medical expenses could ultimately leave you bearing the costs of an accident that wasn't your fault. Read on to learn more about your options after you've sustained serious injuries that far exceed your personal injury protection (PIP) insurance limits.

What Does PIP Insurance Usually Cover?

PIP insurance is designed to cover the cost of any medical care resulting from an auto accident. However, PIP insurance is generally intended to cover only fairly minor injuries, like broken bones that don't require surgery or muscle aches or sprains that don't require ongoing physical therapy. Any severe or chronic injuries requiring more than an ambulance ride and brief stay in the hospital are likely to instantaneously exceed the limits of even a relatively generous PIP policy.

Most PIP limits are relatively low, covering anywhere from $2,500 to $10,000 in medical costs per claim (depending upon whether the injury is classified as an emergency or non-emergency). As anyone who has generated a medical bill over the past few years can attest, these limits are rarely close to enough to cover any serious or long-term injuries that may require physical therapy or surgery for a full recovery.

In addition, some drivers may elect to drive without auto insurance at all; while this is illegal and the driver may face civil and criminal penalties for driving while uninsured, this will mean that your own insurance policy (including coverage limits) will have to step in to cover these expenses. 

What Are Your Options If This Coverage Isn't Enough?

Even in "no fault" states where each driver is covered by his or her own insurance, regardless of which driver is at fault in an accident, drivers have the ability to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover monetary damages resulting from an accident. Depending upon the circumstances of the accident, these damages need not be limited to the out-of-pocket expenses you've incurred, like medical bills, prescription costs, and lost wages; you may even be able to recover punitive damages if the other driver's conduct was sufficiently reckless, as well as additional costs to cover your legal fees and other related expenses.

If you'd like to explore your lawsuit options, you'll want to enlist an attorney who specializes in personal injury law. Even if your insurance company has assigned counsel to your case, your insurance company's attorney doesn't necessarily act in your best interest, but in the insurer's best interest. This can mean potentially settling a claim in a way that ensures the insurance company is adequately compensated for its damages while worrying less about whether the resulting settlement is enough to pay your bills.

By hiring an attorney who works for you, and only you, you'll ensure your rights are protected throughout this process and that you're never pressured or coerced into a settlement agreement that's not fully in your own best interest. If your case isn't settled, you'll proceed to trial, where your attorney will argue your right of recovery to the judge or jury.


26 June 2017

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