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Archive for tag: insurance coverage

What determines how much money I can recover in a lawsuit?

First, it depends on the severity and duration of the injuries and the economic costs associated with the injuries.  You are entitled to be compensated for your medical bills, including estimated future medical bills. You are also entitled to be compensated for past lost wages and for any future loss of earning capacity.  Past medical bills and past lost wages are relatively easy to prove; future medical bills and future loss of earning capacity require expert testimony.  Finally, you are entitled to “general damages” for the past and future pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life you experience or are expected to experience as a result of the accident.  General damages are usually the biggest component of a personal injury recovery.   

Second, it depends on the amount of money available to compensate for your damages.  Unless the defendant is a solvent corporation or an extremely wealthy individual, you are not going to recover more than the insurance limits no matter what your injuries are.  That is – again – why it’s always a good idea to have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM).

Understanding You Car Insurance Policy

Your auto insurance policy is probably one of the most important policies you have.  Not only does it protect you from trouble if you get pulled over or get in an accident, but it protects your asset: your car.  If something happens, insurance provides the money needed to fix or replace it.  In fact, many companies now have accident forgiveness, which means if you get in an accident and it is your first on their policy, they will forgive it and not raise your rates.  Insurance also covers damage to any property involved. 

More importantly, however, insurance covers you and the loved ones in the car.  Should someone be injured, whether you or the other party involved, insurance can help cover medical costs, damage to property, and more.  All of this is great, but if you do not understand your policy, you will not know what you are covered for and how to use it. Below is a quick guide to understanding your insurance policy. 

Auto Insurance has many different parts to consider.  Please note that deductibles, meaning how much you pay first before the policy kicks in, are up to you.  This guide to choosing the right deductible will help you figure out what is best for you.  Also, there may be a required amount of coverage needed for each coverage type, which varies by state. The types of coverage are broken out below.

 

Liability Coverage

Liability coverage- Refers to bodily injury and property damage for an accident in which you are at fault, and under or uninsured motorists when you are not at fault.

Bodily Injury – This covers other people who are injured due to your negligence.  It will cover lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering if the injured party chooses to file a claim.

Property Damage Liability – This covers to any damage you cause to property such as trees, fences, and the like.

Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist – This protects you if you are injured by a driver with no insurance or if you are involved in a hit and run. Underinsured pays the difference if the other person’s insurance is below the actual cost of the damages sustained. This coverage will pay you an additional amount up to your policy limits.

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, “When purchasing liability coverage, you will need to determine the amount of coverage needed to protect yourself if a loss occurs. Coverage is often sold with a per-person and total per-loss maximum amount. For example, 100/300/50 coverage means that you have coverage of $100,000 bodily injury liability insurance per person, $300,000 total bodily injury liability insurance per accident, and $50,000 property damage liability per accident.”  Choosing low coverage to save money will offer less protection and could leave you footing a big bill in a serious accident.  Plus, some states require certain minimums

Coverage for Your Car

Collision Coverage – This pays for physical damage to your car if the damage was a result of sliding into an object such as a mailbox.

Comprehensive Coverage – This covers damage to your auto for almost all other losses other than collisions. This includes:

  • Theft
  • Fire
  • Falling Objects
  • Weather Related such as Hail or Flood
  • Vandalism
  • Damage by Glass Breakage or an Animal such as a Bird or Deer

With car coverage you have to pay a deductible, which is the amount you pay before the insurance company pays anything.  Deductibles usually are $250, $500, or $1000.  You want to choose according to your lifestyle and needs.

Other Optional Coverage 

Medical Payment Coverage – This pays for medical and funeral expenses for you or others injured or killed in an accident.  This also covers those with insurance who are struck as pedestrians.

Rental Reimbursement– This covers the cost of a rental car if your car is totaled or needs repairs.  It usually has a daily and total dollar limit, for example, $20-a-day up to $600. 

Towing and Emergency Roadside Service– This covers towing your car to a repair shop.  Know the specifics of this service as your car dealer or a third party service may offer more comprehensive coverage.

Key Points to Remember When Considering an Auto Policy:

  • Your auto insurance policy will financially protect you, giving you peace of mind.
  • Limits for auto damage or injuries resulting from an auto accident.
  • Be aware of the types of coverage offered and what is required in your state.
  • Review your auto policy and stay informed on what and whom your auto policy will cover.
  • Know your state's minimum amount of liability coverage required and decide what amount is best for your situation.
  • Know how to file a claim with your insurance company. Usually, you can find this information on their website or by calling them.
  • When an accident occurs, know what to do to protect yourself and others around you.  This means trading insurance information and making a claim, no matter how small the accident, and having proper first aid in your car.  Get more tips here.

*Source: NAIC

 

Why You Need UM Coverage

 

UNINSURED/UNDERINSURED COVERAGE:

 

When it comes to driving around in your car, nothing is more important than being safe. Accidents happen every day, leaving people injured or even possibly dead. You cannot put a price on your own life or the life of others which is why you should make sure that you are covered by means of insurance.

Of course, not all insurance policies are affordable. Many of them are ridiculously expensive and people refuse to take out such a policy. Even though this may be better on their pockets at the end of each month, it is not wise to drive around without it. This is where uninsured and underinsured coverage plays a vital role.

In Louisiana, it is required by the state that every person driving a car should have some form of insurance attached to them or their vehicle. It is one of the many states where you could be jailed or fined if you drive around without the safety net of insurance. Many people that can’t afford insurance policies, as mentioned above, opt for underinsured coverage. This makes sure that you and your family is still protected without you having to pay through your teeth at the end of every month.

The UM policies are beneficial when it comes to both parties involved in an accident: those who caused it and those who victim to it. Unfortunately, not all motorists comply with the law as set by the state of Louisiana and not only can they get into big trouble in the event of an accident, but so can you. UM or UIM kicks in so that both persons are protected to any lengths necessary.

Let’s say that you are driving an insured car and someone with an uninsured car drives into you, causing your car to be written off completely. The law states that you should be able to claim expenses from the other person involved, but how will you do that if the other person is not insured at all? UM makes sure that you get the necessary funds in order to build your car back up again with as little money coming from your side as possible. UM will also pay your wages for the time you can’t go to work because of the injuries you have sustained after such an accident. What’s more is that UM and UIM policies will help you pay for the medical costs and your injuries so that you do not have to.

As you can see, UIM and UM policies have many great benefits, but it does not only stop there. It goes the distance to ensure that you are covered when faced with such an enormous financial backlash. Accidents do not only cause worry in a medical aspect, but it can cause unnecessary stress when you have to worry about all the bills you have to pay afterwards. Here are a few more reasons why UM and UIM policies can be beneficial to you, your family, and the car that you are driving:

Health insurance does not always cover all the medical expenses

We know how sticky health insurances can be. A hospital stay can cost you tens of thousands of dollars and even deplete your entire plan just by covering these costs. When you are involved in an accident, the health insurance will pay for these costs, unless you are also on an UM or UIM plan. This plan will pay your bills immediately before you hospital plan or health insurance even has time to kick in. Another reason why this is a better option is because you will be able to get your wages even though you have missed work due to the hospital stay. A health insurance plan will definitely not do that.

It protects you when you are hit by an uninsured driver

As we have already mentioned, this is the prime goal of the UM and UIM plan: to protect you when an uninsured driver is the cause of an accident. In order for your UM or UIM policy to kick in it is important that you follow the procedure pertaining to an accident otherwise it might all be for nought. Write down the details of the other person as well as their insurance details if they have any. Take down their personal details, their licence disk number, and call the police immediately, even if it is a minor accident. The information will then be taken to the claims department of your insurance and it will be dealt with accordingly. This process may take a while especially if injuries have been sustained. The medical aid and medical bills will take longer to sort out than the normal claim disputes.

It takes into account comparative negligence laws

Some states follow comparative negligence laws where part of the blame is shifted to each side of the accident. To use an example: Driver 1 rams into Driver 2 at the stop sign at the end of the road. But it was dark and Driver 2 did not have his headlights on. The insurance companies will then calculate how much of the blame should be shifted to each person so that they can collect damages accordingly. The UM and UIM policies protects people in such cases so that there is no unfair rule being made. This also means that you cannot claim for any accident; if it was your fault then you will have to reimburse the victim.

It protects you when you are hit by a driver whose insurance cannot full cover you

It happens that some insurance policies don’t pay out enough so that both parties are covered.  This is where UM and UIM policies complement the auto insurance of the other person. They will help pay the excess fees if you do have enough money in the fund itself. This way you will not have to dig a hole into your savings to make sure your car is paid off or that your medical bills are taken care of. 

What are the penalties for refusing a breath, blood or urine test in Louisiana during a DWI arrest?

Louisiana is an implied consent state which requires your submission to breath, blood, or urine testing when suspected of driving while intoxicated. In other words, the law requires people consent to these forms of testing as a condition of obtaining a driver's license in Louisiana.  The bargain is implicit with your request for obtaining driving privileges in Louisiana.   Over the years, the penalties for refusing breath, blood, and urine tests has increased dramatically. A person will have his license suspended for one year if it is his first refusal.  The penalty doubles and your license is suspended for two years if it is the driver’s second refusal to submit to the blood, breath or urine test.  Nevertheless, in many instances those individuals having their license suspended for refusing the breath test can still get a restricted license upon proof of having an interlock device and appropriate insurance coverage (SR-22).

What happens if my damages are greater than the insurance money available for the claim?

Unless your defendant is a solvent business, or an individual with considerable assets, it will be extremely difficult to recover more than the limits of the other driver’s liability coverage plus your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM).  In theory it can be done (the driver at fault is personally liable whatever his insurance coverage is), but in practice it rarely happens.  The best thing you can do to prevent such a situation is to purchase as much liability coverage as you can, and UM coverage at the same level.  

Who is responsible for my medical coverage: my health insurer or my auto insurer?

If you have health insurance, you’ve been paying premiums every month in exchange for your health insurer’s promise to pay for your medical treatment when you need it. You should use your health insurance when you seek treatment for your injuries.  If you recover, you may be obligated to pay your health insurer back for what they paid for your related treatment, but you will still come out better than if you don’t use your health insurance. Even if you have “medical payments” coverage in your auto insurance, you should use your health insurance without drawing on your “medical payments” coverage if at all possible. Your lawyer should be able to explain this to you in greater detail, and to assist you if you run into a problem using your health insurance.

What can I recover if the other party isn’t insured?

In this blog post, Yigal Bander discusses the importance of UM covergae.  In some instances, it may be the only way for you to get any compensation for your injuries.

 

 

If the other party isn’t insured, you can recover from your own insurance company if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM).  It’s always a good idea to purchase UM coverage with the same limits as your liability coverage.  If the other driver was in a company vehicle, or even in his own vehicle but working for an employer at the time, you can recover from the employer.  Otherwise, if the other driver is uninsured and not on the job, and you don’t have UM coverage, it may be difficult if not impossible to recover at all.

What can I recover if the other party isn’t insured?

In this post Yigal Bander explains why UM covergae is important.  Sometimes it is the only way you can be compensated for your injuries.  Yigal's comments follow:

 

If the other party isn’t insured, you can recover from your own insurance company if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM).  It’s always a good idea to purchase UM coverage with the same limits as your liability coverage.  If the other driver was in a company vehicle, or even in his own vehicle but working for an employer at the time, you can recover from the employer.  Otherwise, if the other driver is uninsured and not on the job, and you don’t have UM coverage, it may be difficult if not impossible to recover at all.

What can I recover if the other party isn’t insured?

In this blog post Yigal Bander discuss what it is imperative that you purchase UM coverage.  As discussed below, it can mean the difference between recovering something for your injuries or nothing at all.  Yigal's comments follow:

 

If the other party isn’t insured, you can recover from your own insurance company if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM).  It’s always a good idea to purchase UM coverage with the same limits as your liability coverage.  If the other driver was in a company vehicle, or even in his own vehicle but working for an employer at the time, you can recover from the employer.  Otherwise, if the other driver is uninsured and not on the job, and you don’t have UM coverage, it may be difficult if not impossible to recover at all.

What does “full coverage” mean?

There is a common misconception concerning the term "full coverage" as it pertains to your auto insurance policy. In this post, one of our civil trial lawyers- Yigal Bander- addresses this issue.

 

The term “full coverage” means different things to different people.  Many people say they have “full coverage” when they have liability coverage, collision (which pays to fix or replace your vehicle after a crash regardless of fault), comprehensive (which pays to fix or replace your vehicle if it’s damaged for reasons other than a crash, or if it’s stolen), and maybe some “bells and whistles” like rental coverage and roadside assistance.  But that leaves out the most important coverage you can buy, which is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM).  Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage pays you for your injuries, up to the limits of the coverage you buy, if the other, at-fault driver has no liability insurance, or doesn’t have enough liability insurance to fully compensate you for your injuries.  Louisiana law requires your insurance company to sell you UM coverage with the same limits as your liability coverage unless you opt out of it, or elect something less, which you should never do.  On the contrary, you should always make sure you buy full (not “economic only”) UM coverage with the same limits as your liability coverage.  That’s real “full coverage.”