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.