The majority of personal injury insurance claims are filed under vehicle liability coverage. That’s understandable, since the majority of injury claims involve auto accidents. Yet, there are other types of liability insurance, which cover all sorts of circumstances and injuries.
Depending on your injury, and where it occurred, you can pursue a claim under the at-fault party’s insurance coverage in one of the following areas:
There are two primary forms of auto liability insurance: third-party insurance and first-party (no-fault) insurance. The driver who purchases an auto insurance policy is referred to as the first party. The insurance company is the second party. The third party is the person who is injured, or suffers property damage, as a result of the actions of the first party.
In third-party claims, you are not limited to pursuing the at-fault driver’s insurance. If the vehicle is owned by someone other than the driver, you have the right to file a claim against the owner’s insurance as well.
To succeed in a personal injury insurance claim, you must prove the other driver caused the accident. You do that by collecting as much evidence as possible: police reports, photographs, witness statements, weather reports, etc.
In states with a no-fault law, you must turn to your own insurance company for compensation, regardless of who caused the accident. In some cases, your insurance company may file a claim against the other driver to recover the money they paid out to you. This is referred to as subrogating the claim.
No-fault coverage only applies if there are no serious injuries. If you are seriously injured in a collision, you may be able to pursue compensation from the at-fault driver. Remember, it’s always best to speak with an attorney in serious injury cases.
Determining the Driver’s Coverage
It’s important to know the type and amount of insurance coverage you have. Not everyone who drives your car is automatically covered. The quickest way to find out who is covered under your policy is by reading your insurance contract’s Declaration Page.
Most insurance policies cover anyone with permission to drive your car, but there are some exceptions. For example, if a household member has too many speeding tickets, or other moving violations, the insurance company may list him as an excluded driver. If you let him drive your car and he gets in an accident, you can be held personally responsible.
Most insurance companies will also deny coverage if you or the person driving your vehicle are involved in a crime. This includes DUI, illegal drug possession, and other criminal acts.
Underinsured and Uninsured Coverage
Regardless of whether or not you live in a no-fault state, it’s always a good idea to include Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist (UIM) coverage in your policy. This insurance will cover the gap in benefits under a third-party or first-party policy.
In a no-fault state, UIM coverage will help pay for your property damage if the cost of repairs is greater than the other driver’s policy limits. In a traditional fault state, UIM benefits will cover both property damage and personal injury compensation gaps.
Most legitimate businesses carry liability insurance. With so many people coming onto their properties, there’s a good chance someone will eventually get hurt. The most common injuries at businesses are slip and falls. These are often caused by dangerous conditions, such as slippery floors, faulty steps, blocked walkways, and protruding inventory.
Business owners may not be cooperative when an injured customer wants to file a claim. Liability insurance can be expensive for businesses. It often represents a large part of their overhead. Personal injury claims against them can increase their premiums, and too many claims can put them into an assigned risk pool.
Business liability insurance companies are also reluctant to cooperate in personal injury claims. If your case is a slip and fall, and there’s any question about liability or the extent of your injuries, you will have a tough time negotiating a settlement. If liability is crystal clear, the insurance company may be easier to work with.
It’s vital to collect as much evidence as you can, as quickly as you can after being injured on business property. This includes asking the manager to create an incident report (and give you a copy). Also get the names and contact information of any witnesses.
Photographs of the accident scene can be strong evidence. Larger businesses often use surveillance cameras. Ask the manager for a copy of the video. You may not get it, but it’s worth a try.
If you’ve been injured on business property and are getting resistance from the owner or his insurance company, a personal injury attorney can help. An attorney can force the business to turn over video tapes, incident reports, and even witness statements. That’s something you won’t be able to do on your own.
Homeowners insurance doesn’t just cover damage from falling trees, fires, and other catastrophic events. It also covers personal injuries to guests invited onto the property.
The most common injuries occurring on residential properties are slip and falls, dog bites, swimming pool accidents, and injuries suffered by contractors while working. If you were invited to a home and were injured, you probably have a valid claim.
If you’ve been injured on a residential property, be sure to get the homeowner’s insurance information. Contact the company and file your personal injury insurance claim. A claims adjuster will contact you and start the claims process.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Workers’ compensation insurance provides relief for workers injured on the job. Each state has its own rules governing worker eligibility and claims processing. The primary purpose of workers’ comp is to give injured employees quick access to financial and medical benefits.
Workers’ compensation benefits are normally paid regardless of fault. Benefits include partial salary while the employee is unable to work, reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses, and medical coverage for necessary treatment.
Unlike other types of insurance claims that can be contentious, workers’ comp claims are mostly cut and dry. If you’re injured on the job, you’re covered. In 95 percent of claims, it’s that simple. The tradeoff is that you give up your right to sue your employer, and you don’t get compensation for pain and suffering.
On-the-job injuries caused by defective machinery may entitle you to file a separate product liability claim against the manufacturer. Defective product cases are very complex, and best handled by an experienced attorney.
Boat and Off-road Vehicle Insurance
Over the last ten years, the rate of personal injuries resulting from boating and off-road vehicle accidents has steadily increased. If injured, you may be able to pursue a claim against the vehicle’s driver and owner.
Boats and Other Watercraft
The most common boating injuries are caused by collisions between boats and docking areas. Other injuries result from intoxicated drivers and unruly passengers. In heavy seas, passengers can be tossed around the boat or even thrown overboard.
If you’ve been injured in a boating accident, ask the boat owner and driver for their insurance information. If the boat is covered under a homeowner’s policy, you can file a claim under that policy. If the owner has a second, separate liability policy just for the boat, it will cover any gap in coverage from the homeowners policy, and vice versa.
Even if the boat owner was not driving at the time of the accident, you can file a claim against his or her insurance coverage.
Injuries from off-road vehicle accidents are also increasing. If you’ve been injured while riding an off-road vehicle, or were struck by one, you must find out if the driver and owner of the vehicle have separate insurance. If not, the vehicle should be insured under their homeowner’s policy.
Don’t take anything for granted in a personal injury insurance claim. You need to know if there is more than one policy in effect, so you can file against both policies. If the driver is not the owner, you have a right to file an injury claim against both of them.
Medical Malpractice Insurance
Every hospital and doctor in the United States must be covered by some form of medical malpractice insurance. A medical malpractice claim is filed when a patient is injured by sub-standard medical care.
If you’ve been injured as a result of medical malpractice, and the injury occurred in a hospital setting, you may be able to file two separate personal injury claims, one against the doctor’s insurance, and another against the hospital’s. Additionally, if your injury was caused by a nursing error, you may be able to file against the nurse’s separate liability policy.
If your injuries were caused by a malfunctioning machine or other medical device, you may also be able to file a product liability claim against the manufacturer.
The most common form of nursing home injuries are those involving falls, neglect, and abuse of elderly patients. Nursing homes must carry liability insurance for the facility and all of its employees.
Many times, nursing home neglect and abuse involves both civil and criminal liability. Elder abuse is a felony in most states. If you or a loved one has been abused or seriously neglected by nursing home employees, contact the police. The responding officers will document their findings in a report, which will be strong evidence in a personal injury lawsuit.
As in the case of medical malpractice, nursing home claims should only be pursued by an experienced personal injury attorney. There are many attorneys who specialize in nursing home abuse and neglect. Most of them won’t charge for an initial office consultation.
Statute of Limitations
Each state has a statute of limitations for filing personal injury lawsuits. They range from one to five years. Many states break down their limitation periods according to the type of injury. You must check the statute in your state that applies to your specific type of injury.
Consult with a personal injury attorney if you’re not sure about the statute of limitation period. Missing the cut-off can result in being excluded from filing a claim and getting zero compensation.
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