Automobile Accidents and Insurance – Part 2
Anyone who drives a motor vehicle in Vermont is aware that Vermont has minimum insurance requirements required by law. Those insurance limits are designed in part to protect others from the mistakes of the driver of an insured auto where personal injury results. Automobile accidents are probably the single most likely occurrence that will introduce people to an adversarial insurance claim of some kind. However, the world of insurance claims and coverages is not as simple as one might think.
Property Damage Claims
Property damage coverage is usually the first issue to be resolved following an accident. Typically, the property damage claims are resolved by the “first party” coverage (each driver/owner gets the financial benefits under their own policy based on an agreed upon value of the car right before the loss). After that, the insurance companies deal with each other to round out their respective financial positions in what is called “inter-company” discussions. Most of the time, these discussions take place behind the scenes without involving the insured owners.
Med Pay is also very important “first party” benefit under an auto insurance policy. Under Med Pay, you and/or any passenger in your vehicle involved in a crash who submitted to medical care has some amount of first-party medical care coverage for their bills. This benefit is in place regardless of that patient’s health care coverage. Usually, Med Pay has a fixed limit in both amount and duration of time that the benefit will last. (for instance $5,000 or 1 years following the loss). This coverage would only apply to the medical care that was triggered by the motor vehicle accident and not to other medical issues.
Liability coverage is part of an automobile policy which is available to both defend the claim that is asserted against an allegedly “at fault” driver (like legal fees), and to pay any award that is proven to be due to an injured person in a case. The liability section of your policy is capped by the face value of the policy. Vermont’s minimum liability coverage is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per occurrence. These limits are quite low considering the ever-increasing cost of medical care and the values for pain and suffering which are regularly assigned to personal injury plaintiffs in Vermont cases. Even in Vermont, where jury awards are comparatively modest, a serious automobile accident resulting in personal injury can easily result in damages that exceed the Vermont minimums. When this happens, a skilled lawyer can investigate and perhaps find other available coverages that may apply to fairly compensate the injured person.