What types of insurance may apply in a car accident case?
Several different types of insurance coverage apply in a car accident case. First, the at-fault driver’s automobile insurance may apply to cover the damages you sustain in a wreck. In Tennessee, all drivers are required to carry a minimum amount of automobile insurance, specifically $25,000 per person with a cap of $50,000 for each wreck. If two people are injured in a wreck, and the at-fault driver has minimum insurance policy limits, generally speaking the most the insurance company could ever have to pay is $25,000 to each person. If three people are injured in a wreck and the person at fault has minimum limits, the insurance company generally will not have to pay more than $50,000 to all three people combined, and each person cannot recover any more than $25,000. Of course, many drivers break the law and do not carry the required minimum car insurance limits.
In the driver that causes the accident does not have insurance, your own automobile insurance coverage may also apply in a car accident case. This type of insurance coverage is called uninsured motorist coverage. Subject to certain limitations, you may recover under that portion of your own policy if the other driver is proven to be uninsured.
Similarly, if the other driver has insufficient coverage to pay for your damages and your insurance coverage exceeds the amount of the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage, then you may recover the difference between the at-fault driver’s coverage and your own coverage under your underinsured motorist coverage with your automobile insurance carrier. For example, if the at-fault driver has minimum limits of $25,000 per person and you have limits of $100,000 per person, you may recover an additional $75,000 under your uninsured motorist coverage if your damages are $100,000 or more. The driver (or the driver’s employer, if they are on the job at the time of the wreck) may be required to personally pay in addition to the available insurance coverage. However, recovering more than the available insurance limits is often unrealistic.
You may also have coverage under your policy for medical care – often called medical payments coverage. This coverage is usually limited, with most people having $5,000 or $10,000 worth of coverage. The amount of your medical payments coverage depends on your contract with your automobile insurance company. You will most likely be required by your automobile insurance contract to pay your insurer back for any payments made on your behalf if you recover damages from the at-fault driver. This is called subrogation.
You can see that it is very likely that your own insurance company may not be on your side in a wreck in which at the at-fault driver did not have insurance coverage or did not have enough insurance coverage to pay you for your damages and losses. While you have a duty to cooperate with your own insurance company, it makes sense to talk to a lawyer before you give a statement to any insurance company, even your own. At the Law Offices of John Day, P.C., we will be happy to advise you on how to give an accurate statement to the insurance company representative.