Most injured clients we meet with are often confused about insurance. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, because the business of insurance can be perplexing, even for someone with experience dealing with insurance. In this article I will explain how insurance works in the terms of a personal injury case and where the settlement money comes from when and if you resolve your injury claim.
A Common Personal Injury Claim – The Automobile Accident
In order to try and simplify how insurance works in an injury case I will use the most common personal injury claim, the motor vehicle accident. If you are injured in a car accident in Massachusetts, there will most likely be two auto insurance companies involved. One will be the other driver’s insurance company and the second will be your insurance company. (Note: sometimes both the other driver and you might have the same insurance company. While, in that situation, there will be only one insurance company, they will be acting in two different capacities as discussed below).
1. The Other Driver’s Insurance Company
When you are injured in a car crash that was caused by the other driver, you will look to their insurance company to recover compensation for your injuries and damages. The other driver’s auto insurance policy must have coverage for bodily injury to others. This coverage is mandatory under the laws of Massachusetts. If the other driver has enough insurance coverage to cover your damages and injury, great! You will file a claim with their insurance company and, if liability is accepted by them and there are no other issues, they should pay.
The settlement of the personal injury claim from the other driver’s insurance company will be paid when you finish your treatment or reach a maximum medical improvement. In other words, the other driver’s insurance company will pay the settlement at the end of the case.
But, what if the other driver doesn’t have auto insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your injuries and damages? Then you will look to your own insurance company for payment as discussed in the following section.
2. Your Insurance Company
First, in a car accident situation, your auto insurance company will pay a portion of your medical bills from the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits of your insurance policy. For a more detailed explanation of PIP benefits and how much of the medical bills your insurance will pay for injuries you suffered in a car accident, please see our other blogs and articles dealing with PIP.
Additionally, if the other driver, who caused the accident and your injuries, did not have insurance, you will then look to your own insurance company for uninsured motorist coverage. This type of insurance coverage is mandatory in Massachusetts, so you must have it. This means that, if the other driver didn’t have insurance, your own insurance company will pay you a settlement to compensate you for your injuries and damages.
Likewise, if the other driver didn’t have enough insurance coverage to compensate you for your injuries, then you will look to your insurance company for underinsured motorist coverage. This type of coverage is optional, but we highly recommend it. This type of coverage will act as a supplement to compensate you for injuries and damages you sustained in the accident if the other driver doesn’t have sufficient insurance coverage.
Final Thoughts and Recommendations
So, to summarize, if the other driver has enough insurance, they will pay you a settlement. If they do not have insurance you will look to your insurance company for compensation. In the case where the other driver has some insurance coverage, but does not have enough, you will first receive a settlement from the other driver’s insurance company and then look to your own insurance company for extra money you deserve for your injuries.
You may be thinking: “Why does my own insurance have to pay for my injuries? Doesn’t that cause my premiums to go up?” Don’t worry. In a scenario where your insurance company will pay your settlement under the uninsured or underinsured coverage, your premiums will not go up. Those types of insurance coverage are deemed “no-fault” coverage. So, if you were not at fault for the accident, your insurance premiums will not increase.
Lastly, you should review your auto insurance coverage with your insurance agent or company. Make sure you have sufficient coverage for both bodily injury to others, uninsured motorists and underinsured motorists. Believe me, you will want to make sure you have enough coverage if you ever find yourself seriously injured in an accident.
If You Were Hurt In An Accident, Speak With An Experienced Lawyer Today
If you have been injured in an accident caused by someone else or have any questions about insurance coverage related to an accident in Massachusetts, feel free to contact us online or call us at (508) 879-3500. We are happy to discuss these matters with you and helping secure the financial compensation you deserve.