If your medical damages exceed coverage on a car insurance policy, the options available depend on two important factors. One is who caused the accident and the other is the terms of an auto insurance policy or other financial resources.
Options if Damages Exceed Coverage and You’re at Fault
The most important thing to determine after getting injured in an accident is who is at fault. If you caused the crash, it's your responsibility to take care of the medical bills. If you only carry liability coverage, it won't help cover your own damages. But if you have other types of car insurance coverage, it may cover your damages up to policy limits.
For instance, if you purchased medical payments coverage it will pay for those costs up to the limits of the policy. It's available no matter who was at fault for the accident. But any expenses that exceed policy limits will need to come out of your own pocket, or your health insurance may cover the costs. This may require you meet your deductible and make co-payments though.
Options if Damages Exceed Coverage and Another Party is at Fault
If the other driver was at fault for the crash, his or her liability insurance should cover the medical claims. Of course, that also depends on policy limits. The minimum amount required for bodily injury liability for one person is $20,000. So if that's what the other driver has for coverage and costs exceed that amount, you will need to consider other options.
For instance, if you purchased underinsured (UIM) motorist coverage, this helps pay for medical costs that exceed the liable driver's policy limits. Again, it's up to the amount of coverage you have available. Let's say the other driver's insurance covers $25,000 in medical claims but they total $30,000. Your UIM coverage will pay for the remaining $5,000. Your own health insurance coverage may also help.
Another option might be to file a lawsuit against the other driver to recover the full amount of your damages. This can be difficult in some cases if the at-fault driver does not have assets and resources to pay for the full extent of your damages. Talk to your attorney about the options that may be available.
Options for Damage Recovery When a Passenger is Injured
Motorists in the state of Iowa are mandated to carry a minimum of bodily injury liability (20,000/40,000) and property damage liability (15,000). However, liability only covers drivers and passengers who are injured in another vehicle.
If the driver of the car you’re in has medical payments coverage, it generally protects injured passengers. You also could be covered if the driver has uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
When another driver is at fault, then you have the option to file a claim under his or her insurance. If the limits in the policy aren’t enough to cover all of your damages, then you may want to seek legal action against the driver.
As a passenger, if you have sustained serious, disabling or life-threatening car accident injuries, it’s important you fully understand your rights. Seek legal counsel immediately.
Talk to Lawyer if Medical Damages Exceed Car Insurance Coverage Limits
It's important to talk with an attorney if you’re facing substantial medical costs and not sure how to pay them. When someone else is at fault for your Des Moines accident, you need to make sure there's adequate evidence to prove liability; an attorney can help with this aspect of your case as well.
Of course, it's not just medical bills that cause concern for injured drivers. When the injuries are serious it could also result in weeks, months or even longer of missed time from work. This will increase the financial burden when unable to make a living. Also, you may qualify to recover other types of damages that address the physical and/or emotional losses.
Speak with a lawyer at Walker, Billingsley & Bair in Des Moines to learn more about your legal options and for help pursuing them. Call us at (888) 435-9886 or contact us online to set up a consultation about your case.