Many people think that bodily injury and a personal injury are the same thing, however, they are not. A personal injury is related to civil law, while a bodily injury relates to insurance or to a specific injury that becomes part of a personal injury lawsuit. Understanding bodily injury as it relates to your motor vehicle insurance can help the other person’s insurance company compensate you.
Is Insurance for Bodily Injury Required in California?
Vehicle owners and drivers in California are required to carry liability insurance for bodily injury in the event someone becomes injured in an accident. This type of coverage pays the injured party’s medical costs, time they have to be off work and other expenses as far as the limit on the policy. Vehicle owners and drivers are required to carry a minimum amount of this insurance in California, which is commonly called 15/30 insurance. Most insurers in California offer insurance policies that have a higher limit. For a single accident, the minimum coverage will pay up to:
- For one person, the coverage will cover up to $15,000 per bodily injury or death.
- The coverage will pay up to $30,000 for bodily injury or the wrongful death of all the individuals harmed or who died as a result of the accident.
The Problems With Minimum Bodily Injury Insurance
In an accident caused by negligence, whether it is a driver or for other reasons, the responsible party can be held personally liable. This happens when the injured party/parties file a personal injury lawsuit, which is through a trial in civil court. Since even a short stay in a hospital can result in much higher medical bills than minimum bodily injury coverage will pay, it can benefit a driver or vehicle owner to carry insurance with a higher limit.
For example, party number one is speeding, loses control of the vehicle and hits another car. The driver of the other vehicle suffers a head injury as a result. After the medical bills are totaled, the injured person owes $40,000. The negligent driver of the first vehicle would owe $25,000 above the limit the insurance company will pay.
Bodily Injury to a Driver or Passengers in the Vehicle
Liability insurance coverage is important when others are injured and the policyholder is at fault. This third-party insurance covers damage expenses when the individual holding the policy causes an accident. However, liability insurance will not cover the property damage or injuries to the policyholder. Several insurance types pay for injuries to a California driver and passengers riding in the vehicle at the time of the accident. These include:
- Health insurance carried by the driver may provide coverage.
- Med Pay insurance will pay regardless to who was at fault for the accident. This would cover both the driver and any passengers. This is an optional insurance.
- Uninsured/underinsured insurance covers motorists and will pay under certain circumstances. In California, it takes over if the other driver is at least partially at fault for accident injuries. This optional insurance pays out if that driver does not have liability insurance or the coverage is insufficient.
- Bodily injury liability insurance carried by the other driver will pay if that person was at least partly at fault for the accident.
- If the other driver is at fault, at least partially, they may be held personally responsible for damages if they are uninsured/underinsured or the expenses are above what the insurance company will pay.
Investigation by the Insurance Company
An insurance adjuster will be assigned to a case that involves a claim for damages. The adjuster’s job is to investigate the claim and determine how much the insurance company should payout for those damages. Some of the ways an insurance adjuster reaches an amount that may be offered by the insurance company include:
- Interviewing the policyholder to get their version of how the accident happened
- Talking to either the other driver, their lawyer, if one has been retained, or their insurance adjuster
- Reviewing the medical records of those who are claiming injuries caused by the accident
- Reviewing the police report and interviewing witnesses to the accident
- Inspecting the scene of the crash, vehicles or photos
California Motor Vehicle Accidents and Insurance Coverage
Because California is a comparative fault state, it can affect the amount of damages awarded, even by the insurance company. For example, one motorist is speeding, and the other driver makes an unsafe lane change, crashing into the first car. The speeder is assigned 60 percent of the fault in the accident. The driver who causes a dangerous lane change is assigned 40 percent of the responsibility. This means the first driver would still be able to collect 40 percent of the amount awarded for their injuries. The second would be entitled to 60 percent.
Filing a Claim Against a Negligent Driver
Many times, the amount awarded by an insurance company following accident injuries is insufficient to pay medical bills, time away from work and other costs. In instances such as these, if the accident was caused by another’s negligent actions, the victim might want to consult with a personal injury attorney. The attorney not only examines existing evidence but has the wherewithal to perform accident reconstruction and use other supporting evidence to build a case. By presenting a strong argument in civil court, the victim may be able to obtain the financial relief they need. Because a personal injury lawyer works on a contingency basis, there are no charges upfront, and nothing is owed until the case is won.
The Law Firm of David Azizi
After an accident, you may find yourself dealing with multiple phone calls from the insurance company as well as attending to doctor visits. You may be in the hospital with many of the calls being directed toward your family. It is a delicate time and one where no one has the energy to do everything. Calling the law firm of David Azizi relieves you of some of the burden. David will be able to talk to your insurer in your stead. He will calculate your damages and consult with your doctors to see the extent of the injury and whether you will need long-term care. David will also negotiate with the insurance company to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve. If that is not possible, he will take your case to court. Call (800) 991-5292 today to get started.