Bodily injury insurance pays for damages to an innocent party who is hurt because of an auto accident. Limits for most states start at $15,000 and encompass three major areas: medical bills, wage loss, and pain and suffering. The resolution of bodily injury claims can occur within a 24-hour period or last up to six years. It all depends on the people involved in the auto accident as well as the injuries. Then, there is legal paperwork that must be signed by the injured party after a settlement has been made to secure the agreement. As a result, bodily injury insurance is complex in nature and, at times, even controversial.
Payment for medical bills is a key aspect of bodily injury insurance. However, before you imagine yourself racking up medical bills at the expense of a big insurance company, it is important to point out that bodily injury insurance won't pay for medical bills while a person seeks treatment. The injury party has to use the medical coverage on his own auto policy to pay for bills, health insurance or pay out-of-pocket. So when is a payment for medical bills issued out under bodily injury insurance? It happens after the injured party is done with treatment and has agreed to a settlement. Then, a check is issued out as reimbursement to the entity that paid for the medical bills.
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Another aspect of bodily injury insurance is the payment of lost wages. An innocent party can be paid for days missed at work because of injuries related to the auto accident. As with medical bills, this payment comes in the form of reimbursement at the time of settlement. Also, the innocent party's employer must document days missed from work along with pay rate and then a doctor must validate that the injured party couldn't work during this time. If either of these things is missing, the request for lost wages will be denied under bodily injury insurance. So, word to the wise, the day after you get hurt in an auto accident is not the time to decide to go on an extended vacation from work unless your doctor tells you to.
The most controversial aspect of bodily injury insurance is pain and suffering. Pain and suffering is the intangible part of an injury claim. It represents the amount of mental and physical anguish a person went through because of his injuries. Of course, this can vary from person to person. People who are more sensitive to pain, elderly or already dealing with a disease my suffer more from an injury than the average person. Also, people can easily fake certain kinds of injuries such as strains or pulled muscles. For this reason, it is often difficult for a bodily injury adjuster to put a quantitative value on a person's pain and suffering. So, they result to basing it on what is the average compensation for the type of injury. Then, this number is adjusted based on extraneous information like age, force of impact and pre-existing injuries. This process is not foolproof, but is what is commonly used to resolve bodily injury claims.
A common misconception about bodily injury insurance is that a settlement is equal to three times the value of the medical bills. The truth is that bodily injury claims are resolved on a case by case basis. The monetary value of the three previously mentioned factors (medical bills, wage loss and pain and suffering) are considered for payment in a lump sum. Then, as mentioned previously, other factors like age are looked at to see if this number should be altered in some way. Therefore, no formula exists that bodily injury adjusters use to settle a claim. It truly is based on the individual claim.
One thing to consider if you ever get into an auto accident and are hurt is if you should get an attorney. Attorneys act as mouthpieces for injured parties who don't want to face off with auto insurance companies in order to settle a bodily injury claim. The only problem is that they are not always necessary. If you have a soft tissue injury that doesn't require a lot a treatment, hiring an attorney may not work toward your benefit. Why? After you pay him one-third of your settlement, which is a standard fee, you may be left with an amount you could have negotiated on your own or even less. So, it really is best to get an attorney only if your injuries are serious and will last for an extended time.