How do different types of auto insurance affect my personal injury claim?
The District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia have different insurance laws affecting your ability to use what is commonly called First-Party Coverage. This includes Medical Payment or Medical Expense Benefits in Virginia, and Personal Injury Protection (PIP) in D.C. and Maryland. In addition, the rules in our area differ on your right to use health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid for accident-related medical care and when different health insurance benefits, if used, must be reimbursed.
Knowledge of available insurance is extremely important and can affect your net recovery. The interplay of first-party benefits and third-party benefits (the settlement offer from the at-fault person) can greatly enhance or reduce your ability to receive fair compensation for your injuries. At Stein Sperling, our attorneys help clients look at every benefit available to try to maximize the settlement amount they receive.
What are PIP, MedPay and Income Loss Benefits?
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is a benefit used in Maryland and D.C. that compensates you for certain damages, regardless of fault, after an automobile accident. PIP benefits can be used to pay medical expenses and/or lost wages. The laws affecting PIP in D.C. and the laws affecting PIP in Maryland differ greatly.
Medical Expense (MEB) or Medical Payments (MedPay) Benefits are available to pay your medical bills after an automobile accident. You must purchase separate MedPay benefits from your automobile insurance carrier, meaning these benefits are not automatically included in your policy or with “full coverage.” Unlike PIP, MedPay cannot be used to pay any portion of lost wages. If you live in Virginia, you may also purchase Income Loss Benefits (ILB), which reimburses your lost wages following an accident up to a stated maximum amount.
MedPay benefits and PIP benefits are first-party benefits not subject to subrogation in Maryland and Virginia. This means that if the policy provides for these benefits, you have the right to use the benefits to pay medical bills without an obligation to pay back those benefits if you recover a settlement for your personal injury claim from a third party (the at-fault person).
Stein Sperling’s attorneys are well-versed in dealing with first-party benefits, all of which can affect your bottom line recovery for your injury case. In addition, no matter where your accident occurs or where you live, since our attorneys are licensed in many states and are active in many bar and trial associations, if your case involves issues concerning out-of-state laws, we have the resources to assist you in your claim.
Why am I using my insurance policy/coverage when I’m not at-fault?
Our attorneys take the time to explain to clients how using their policies/benefits aids in their recovery without negatively affecting their own insurance premiums. If you have purchased these coverages and you don’t use them when you need them following an accident, you are not getting what you have paid for. By not using these “no-fault” benefits, you are not recovering everything you’re entitled to under the law.
What are UM and UIM Coverage?
Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage provides protection for you, your household resident relatives and your passengers if an accident occurs and the at-fault driver does not have auto insurance, or the at-fault driver is unknown. In a UM situation, your own auto insurer steps into the shoes of the at-fault uninsured/unknown driver to pay your claim for injuries up to the limits of your auto policy. UM is mandatory in our local jurisdictions and making a claim for it should NOT affect your insurance premiums.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM) provides coverage for you, your household resident relatives, and passengers in the event you have an accident with a driver whose liability insurance limits are less than you carry on your own policy. This coverage protects you since no one can control whether the person who causes an accident has insurance, and if so, how much. Some states around us only require $15,000, $25,000 or $30,000 in automobile insurance coverage.
Do you know how much area hospitals bill in an emergent situation? If you think that it’s quite possible to have more in emergency medical care bills than in automobile insurance coverage, you’ve guessed right. As a result, it’s important you understand these coverages and protect yourselves with a good auto insurance policy – before you need its coverage!
How can I be sure I have the coverage I need?
Stein Sperling’s injury law attorneys welcome the opportunity to review your auto policy with you and help you understand the coverages available. Do not wait until you have an accident and need your coverage to find out if you and your family are adequately protected. Too often, we see clients, from corporate executives and CEOs to hard-working self-employed individuals, who are not sufficiently protected. We invite you to bring in your auto insurance policy for a complimentary review. Let our attorneys help to protect and guide you through the insurance maze. Call us today for a free consultation to review your insurance policy.