Insurance Coverage for a Personal Injury Accident
A lawsuit for a personal injury accident can be disastrous financially if you do not carry adequate insurance protection. In California there are a number of types of insurance that can cover a personal injury accident. Much depends upon the nature of the accident. A car accident policy, for instance, would not be very helpful for a swimming accident that occurs on your premises.
California’s Minimum Liability Car Insurance Requirement
Like all but a few states, California requires that drivers carry a minimum amount of liability car insurance. California Vehicle Code §16058.1b states that for a private passenger vehicle this minimum is $15,000/$30,000/$5000, or as often written, 15/30/5. The first number refers to payment for the injury or death of each person in an accident, the second number the total paid for all persons injured or killed, and the third for any damage to property.
How Much Liability Insurance Is Needed?
It is important to consider that this minimum coverage is inadequate for most individuals, especially those with assets such as homes. This is because any cost beyond that which is covered is the responsibility of the injuring party. The Insurance Information Institute recommends a policy with $100,000 bodily injury per person and $300,000 bodily injury per accident. However, you can carry liability insurance in any amount, and your own exposure to losing assets will dictate in large part how much you should carry.
Keep in mind that liability insurance does not protect you or your property. It is strictly for those who are injured in an accident caused by you.
Full Coverage Insurance
In order to protect you and your property in an accident you caused, you will need to have full coverage insurance. This includes liability insurance for you and the other party, as well as damage to property. Specifically it pays for:
- Medical expenses
- Funeral costs
- Lost income
- Pain and suffering
- A defense attorney if you are sued because of the accident
Collision, Gap and Comprehensive Insurance
Two components of full coverage insurance are collision and comprehensive. Collision insurance pays for damage to your vehicle in an accident that is your fault. A standard policy will generally pay for costs of repair up to the estimated value of your automobile. This can pose a problem for a person who is “upside down” in his/her automobile purchase. For instance, suppose you buy a car for $25,000, make five payments of $400 each, and then are in an accident where the car is totaled. If the value of the car is less than what you still owe, you will have to make up the difference. Gap insurance can be purchased to make up for this difference.
While with collision insurance there is a known party liable, comprehensive insurance covers damage to a vehicle caused by an unknown party. This is sometimes referred to as an “act of God,” and includes damage from a hailstorm, hurricane, flood, theft, fire and vandalism. As with collision insurance, comprehensive pays only the fair market value of the automobile. You should consider purchasing gap insurance to make up the difference.
Most standard automobile policies do not cover damage or injury caused by an uninsured motorist, nor for one whose policy does not pay all the expenses incurred. You should consider purchasing uninsured/underinsured motorist protection with your policy to protect yourself should you be injured by another party who is not insured.
Rental Car Insurance
Depending upon your specific automobile policy, you may or may not be insured if you rent a car. The car rental agency will ask for proof of insurance before renting to you, but you should check with your carrier to determine whether you are covered. Rental insurance added to your policy will prevent you from potentially losing assets if you are in an accident in the rented vehicle.
Other types of insurance may cover personal injury accidents as well. These include:
- Business Insurance: If you own a business, it is important that you carry liability insurance in case someone is injured on your property.
- Homeowners Insurance: A homeowner’s policy covers the cost of any personal injuries suffered by individuals who are invited guests on the property.
- Boat/Off-Road Vehicle Insurance: Unless your boat or off-road vehicle is covered under your homeowner’s policy, it is important that you carry insurance specifically in the event someone is injured.
- Health Insurance: Your personal health insurance policy may protect you if someone else injures you.
- Umbrella Policy: Umbrella insurance was specifically designed to offer the individual additional coverage should they be sued for injury and/or property damage. By its nature, then, it exceeds the limits of your car, home, and other types of insurance. An umbrella policy can help pay legal fees that other insurances do not.
It Is Important That You Carry Adequate and Appropriate Insurance
For protection of your assets, it is essential that you carry insurance that will cover any personal injury lawsuit to which you may be subjected. One can never be sure that an accident will not occur, and you need to be prepared. The Law Offices of Nadrich & Cohen provide a high standard of legal assistance for persons who are injured in an accident through no fault of their own. Call today to discuss your case.