Understanding How Automobile Insurance Works for Bodily Injury

Automobile insurance coverage can be a tad confusing and it is very important to have sufficient coverage in the event of bodily injury. By way of example, some years ago, one of my children’s caretakers “Sara” was in a very bad rear-end collision – she was sitting stopped at a red light and was hit from behind by someone going at a high rate of speed. She suffered three herniated discs in her neck. Her medical bills were over $34,000. She also had lost wages. The lady who hit her had just a month earlier failed to pay her automobile insurance coverage premium – so the insurance had lapsed and the lady at fault had no insurance. The lady also had no significant assets. That meant that my injured client Sara had to look to her own uninsured insurance coverage. Unfortunately, Sara only had the minimum limit required by Virginia statute for injury to one person which is $25,000. And, while Sara had health insurance, she had not obtained medical payments coverage under her automobile insurance coverage which would have assisted with her medical bills, including out of pocket costs. Sara would have been better protected against being hit and badly injured by an uninsured driver had she obtained better coverage for herself.

So what is a basic overview of bodily injury insurance coverage?

  • Bodily Injury Liability Coverage. This is the basic insurance coverage to protect you and your assets when you (the insured) are determined to be liable or at fault for an accident that results in bodily injury to someone else. Under Virginia statute, the minimum required liability coverage is $25,000 for injury to one person and $50,000 for injury to two or more people. If the liability coverage is not enough to cover the injuries you caused, then the injured party can try to collect beyond the coverage and pursue your own personal assets. This means that, if you have significant assets that an injured person could pursue, then you should protect yourself by having higher liability coverage.
  • Uninsured/Underinsured (UM/UIM) Motorist Coverage. As with the example of “Sara” above, this is the coverage that protects you in the event you are injured by a driver that has no insurance or does not have enough insurance to cover your injuries. So, in the example above, if the person who hit “Sara” had minimum limits of $25,000 for one person, but “Sara” had purchased  for herself UM/UIM coverage of $100,000 for one person, then “Sara” would have added another “$75,000” towards covering her for her bodily injury from the accident.
  • Medical Expense and Loss of Income Benefits Coverage. Another way to protect you and your family in the event of bodily injury is Medical Expense Benefits Coverage (sometimes called “medical payments coverage”) to cover reasonable and necessary medical expenses due to an accident regardless of who is at fault for causing the injury. Loss of income benefits provide up to a certain amount per week for a set number of weeks.

An excellent and more detailed resource to understand insurance coverage is the “Auto Insurance Consumer’s Guide” produced by the Bureau of Insurance of the State Corporation Commission.  In addition, the attorneys of Locke & Quinn are prepared to assist you in the event you are injured in an automobile accident.

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Disclaimer:  This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice.  The law of auto insurance coverage can be rather complicated. This is just a brief and general summary. To receive legal advice concerning your specific situation, please contact Locke & Quinn.  You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in this article without seeking the appropriate legal advice. Article provided by Colleen M. Quinn, Esq. For more about Ms. Quinn, please visit https://plus.google.com/+LockeQuinnColleenMQuinnRichmond/about.

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