Most of us do it every day, but we never think about how dangerous it is. Driving leads to about 38,000 deaths every year in the U.S. and an additional 4.4 million injuries. Though the statistics are frightening, we still need to travel and get from point A from point B. In many cities, there’s no avoiding driving. While there are many ways to drive safely, the statistics show you’re likely to get in some type of accident in your life. Other than driving safely, one of the best ways to protect yourself is through your car insurance. When you invest in a good insurance policy, you can protect your assets.
Without insurance, you’re risking debt after yours and others’ medical bills and auto repairs. Personal injury and bodily injury are two policies that cover different types of costs in the event of a car accident. The two policies are similar, yet different, and it’s important to understand personal injury vs bodily injury when you’re looking for new coverage. Learn more about the two types of coverage. Our guide will also help you learn to find the best policy and personal injury lawyers.
Personal Injury vs Bodily Injury Coverage
The key difference between personal injury and bodily injury coverage is the people who are covered.
Through bodily injury coverage, your insurance will pay for medical and funeral expenses for others. If you happen to cause an accident and the other passengers involved are injured, your bodily injury policy covers the medical expenses, so you don’t have to.
Personal injury coverage protects you after an accident, whether you were at fault or not. Your personal injury protection (PIP) may also cover costs for your passengers or possibly pedestrians’ medical coverage if you happen to harm someone on the street while driving.
Outside of typical coverage, a bodily injury policy may also pay for victims’ loss of income, and pain and emotional suffering.
Typical Personal Injury Coverage
Personal injury protection includes medical coverage after a car accident, as well as some additional coverage that your medical insurance won’t include.
PIP coverage may include:
- Hospital fees
- Ongoing care after disability
- Compensation for loss of income
- Funeral costs
- Home care if you’re disabled
Your medical providers will use your PIP coverage first before turning to other insurance if you’re injured after a car accident. If you have medical insurance, you can use it along with PIP coverage to help limit your out-of-pocket costs.
Typical Bodily Injury Coverage
You’ll usually see bodily injury coverage stated as three different numbers. One example of a standard liability policy is 25/50/20, which means the policy will pay for $25,000 per person of bodily injury with a maximum of $50,000 per accident, and $20,000 of property damage.
Bodily injury insurance alone will cover the following:
- Car accident victims’ medical expenses when you’re at fault
- Victim compensation for loss of income
- Compensation for victim pain and emotional suffering after an accident
- Funeral costs if a car accident is fatal
Each company and policy varies, so be sure to check what’s covered. Be sure you purchase bodily injury coverage.
What Type of Coverage Do I Need?
When it comes to auto insurance, in Florida, PIP is required. However, bodily injury coverage is not.
To find out if bodily injury is required in your state, head to your local government’s highway and motor vehicle division. There, you should also be able to determine the minimum coverage required.
Some states may require PIP instead of BI. For example, Florida requires a minimum of $10,000 in PIP coverage.
Even though each state offers guidelines for the minimum coverage, it’s wise to consider paying for more bodily injury coverage. At the end of the day, BI coverage is there to protect your assets. If you get into a car accident where your insurance doesn’t cover all the medical bills for other victims, the additional cost will come out of your pocket.
Consider your total assets and annual income, and find coverage that’s at least 2-3x that value. You may be paying $100-150 more per month compared to the state minimum, but you’ll be protected from the state seizing your assets and garnishing wages after a serious car accident.
How to Shop for Personal and Bodily Injury Coverage
The first step to choosing PIP and BI coverage is to understand your state’s requirements. Some states require BI only, PIP only, or both. If you get into an accident without the required coverage, you’re subject to lawsuits and extensive out-of-pocket costs.
Even if your state has minimum guidelines, it’s better to consider more coverage for your needs.
PIP is generally required in “no-fault” car accident states where the person whose fault it is doesn’t matter in terms of who pays. In these states, your PIP coverage will still pay for your medical bills even if the accident was the other person’s fault. In different states, the person who caused the accident would have his or her liability insurance pay for medical bills and damages.
When shopping around for insurance coverage, ask for quotes from several different insurance companies. Everything from your driving history and demographics can affect your costs.
Legal Implications of Personal Injury
If there are people injured in a car accident, there’s much more at stake. The parties involved and the insurance companies will work hard to determine who pays for what. Unfortunately, the process can get messy.
If you’re the victim of a car accident and you’re facing high costs, it may be worth it to file a personal injury lawsuit instead of only a personal injury claim. The lawsuit may be worthwhile if your expenses are significant, and you can’t reach a compromise with the other party’s insurance company.
Depending on where you live, your state may have a statute of limitations on personal injury claims. The statute of limitations may limit the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit. This limitation is one good reason why it’s best to find a lawyer to work with as soon as you’ve been involved in a serious accident.
Working With a Personal Injury Law Firm
When you get in a serious car accident, it can be treated like a crime scene. The events that happened and who is at fault can both play into who pays for what.
Especially if you live in a no-fault state, it can be essential to hire a lawyer to get the most money out of an insurance company. If you handle your own claim, another person’s insurance company is more likely to pay you the minimum. After a car accident, calling a lawyer is a top priority after gaining as much information as possible and seeking medical treatment.
By working with a personal injury lawyer, they can negotiate the compensation that you deserve rather than settling for the bare minimum. The personal injury lawyer will handle the entire case, from collecting evidence to communicating with the outside insurance company.
Protecting Your Coverage and Rights
Understanding insurance coverage can keep you empowered in the event of a car crash. Knowing your rights and coverage is key to protecting yourself and your assets.
If you’ve been in a serious car crash, contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. At Beltz & Beltz, we offer free case evaluations to make sure you’re getting the help you need for your specific case.