How Much Insurance Is Available to Pay For My Injuries?
–By Les Brock–
If you have been injured in an auto accident, there may be several different sources of insurance that is available to pay your claim. In Virginia, the at-fault driver’s insurance is typically responsible for paying for the injuries you sustain in a car accident, up to the policy limits. If you are injured in an accident that was caused by another driver, you may file a claim with that driver’s insurance company to seek compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages related to the accident.
Virginia requires that insurance policies provide minimum limits of coverage for injuries sustained in a car accident. The required coverage in Virginia is $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident for bodily injury liability coverage. Starting on January 1, 2025, these amounts go up to $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident. It’s important to note that these are just the minimum requirements, and the at-fault driver may have higher coverage limits or multiple policies that are available to pay your claim.
So how do you find out how much insurance the other driver has? The other driver’s insurance company is required to disclose the available limits of liability insurance upon written request if the total of your medical bills and lost wages are at least $12,500 (or if your injuries were caused by the negligence of a driver who was charged with driving under the influence). You have to submit copies of your medical records, medical bills, and wage loss documentation supporting your request. If you do not meet the $12,500 threshold, then you may not be able to determine the amount of available coverage without filing suit against the negligent driver and conducting discovery.
The at-fault driver may have additional insurance coverage, besides his own, that could provide coverage for your claim. If the at-fault driver resides with a relative who has his or her own insurance policy, then that policy may also provide coverage for your claim. It may be more difficult to identify this type of insurance coverage without filing suit and conducting discovery.
Additionally, your own insurance may provide coverage for your claim. Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage is a type of auto insurance coverage that is designed to protect you if you are involved in an accident with a driver who does not have insurance or who does not have enough insurance to cover the damages. In Virginia, UM coverage is mandatory and is included in all auto insurance policies unless the policyholder specifically rejects it in writing.
New legislation in Virginia that becomes effective on July 1, 2023, provides that UM coverage is in addition to any liability coverage that the at-fault driver has. For example, if the at-fault driver has $50,000 in liability coverage and you have $300,000 in UM coverage, then you should have a total of $350,000 in potential insurance coverage for your claim. Under existing law before the amendment goes into effect, the UM carrier receives a credit for the liability coverage, so under that same example the maximum insurance available would be only $300,000 ($50,000 from the liability carrier and $250,000 from the UIM carrier).
If this is not confusing enough, if there are multiple liability policies or multiple UM policies that provide coverage, some or all of those policies may “stack,” meaning you may have coverage for the total sum of the policies. This may require an in-depth analysis of the policy language in order to understand how the policies apply.
In order to maximize your recovery, it is important to identify all potential sources of insurance coverage and understand how those policies apply to your claim. It would be wise to consult an attorney who is familiar with these issues. If you or a family member have been injured in an accident, call Merrick Brock at 804-500-9796 to discuss the claim and the types and amounts of insurance that may be available.
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