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Someone Hit My Car, Where Does the Money Come From?

By Brett J. West, Trial Attorney with the Pendleton Law Team

Here at CP&A, our focus is comprehensive claim resolution so that our clients can focus on getting treatment, and getting better.  In a perfect world, your personal injury attorney files a claim against the auto insurance company of the person at fault, and your attorney and the insurance company adjuster negotiate towards a settlement for money damages accounting for medical bills and non-economic damages (which include pain and suffering).

How Auto Insurance Policy Limits Work?

However, there is a limit to how much money the insurance adjuster may offer in settlement of the case (indeed it even limits what a jury or judge can order at trial).  You may recall when you purchased our own auto insurance policy that your sales agent offered you a range of policy limits options.  You may have seen those policy limits expressed in shorthand as 25/50, or 50/100.  The minimum limit for insurance required in Virginia is currently $25,000 per person and $50,000 per incident for bodily injury coverage.  So what if the person at fault only purchased $25,000 in coverage, but your medical bills total $30,000?

Under-Insured Motorist Claims

In this scenario, the at-fault driver is known as an under-insured motorist.  Your personal injury attorney will file claims against the at-fault driver’s insurance AND your auto-insurance policy.  Be aware, this is only permitted when your insurance policy has greater limits than the at-fault driver’s policy limits.  For example:  Person A comes to a complete stop at a traffic light and is then struck from behind by Person B’s vehicle, who was not paying attention to the road.  Person B has an auto insurance policy with $25,000 in coverage.  Person A has $50,000 in coverage.  Person A suffers $30,000 in medical bills.  Person A’s personal injury attorney may file claims against both insurance policies.  This will grant access to the full $25,000 from Person B’s auto insurance policy, as well as an additional potential $25,000 from Person A’s own auto insurance policy.

Uninsured Motorist Claims

Imagine in the scenario above that instead of $25,000 in coverage, Person B has no insurance whatsoever?  This results in an uninsured motorist claim being filed with Person A’s own insurance.  They can now access the full $50,000 in coverage that they premiums on every month.

Won’t that increase my insurance rates?

Absolutely not.  Using your own insurance does NOT increase your auto insurance premiums.