If you’re in a state that follows the guidelines of the District of Columbia, you have a fairly high minimum on your PIP insurance. In Washington D.C., you must have a minimum of $50,000 in personal injury insurance to drive a car. This also protects the occupants of the vehicle or another driver if you let someone drive your car. $50,000 might seem like a high limit for an accident — it might be lower in other states — but in many cases, it’s just not enough. Unfortunately, that’s also the situation with other types of non-vehicle policies.
The Real Cost of an Accident
Insurance companies are often quick to settle accident claims. Within 24-hours of submitting a claim, you can expect an initial offer from the insurance company. It’s usually enough to cover vehicle damage, your initial medical bills, and maybe even a little extra for your inconvenience. When you’re looking at paying a big hospital or doctor bill, this money may seem very tempting, but that’s because you’re not seeing the full picture.
Settlement offers usually don’t cover the full cost of an accident and the insurance company will require you to sign a waiver of liability, which will prevent you from pursuing further damages. In other words, you can’t get any more money if your bills exceed the cost of the claim.
The cost of an accident can be extraordinarily high and it can include:
- Ambulance ride
- Property damage (particularly in a car accident)
- Follow-up appointments
- Scans, testing, and bloodwork
- Physical therapy
- Lost wages and reduced income
The average cost of a hospital stay is $10,700, but with many accidents, your treatment can go on for weeks or months after you’re released. With the skyrocketing cost of medicine, it’s easy to see how the claim could far exceed the policy.
Pain and Suffering
In addition to your economic costs, you may be entitled to compensation for physical pain, emotional trauma, diminished mental and physical capacity, and other non-monetary items that you would not be dealing with had you not been in the accident.
What You Can Do if Your Claim Exceeds Benefits
Your insurance company may not be able to offer you more than the limits of your policy, but that may not be you’re only recourse. If you’re injured due to the negligence of another party, you can pursue the other party for additional compensation. For instance, if a commercial truck runs a red light and strikes your vehicle, you can make a claim via your own insurance. Many states are no-fault states and your own policy pays your claim. But commercial vehicle accidents tend to be particularly destructive. You may easily exceed the limits of a standard policy. The trucking company, however, will likely have additional resources that you can go after. They will also likely have additional liability insurance to protect them from those types of claims.
One of the best things that you can to receive full compensation is to contact a personal injury lawyer in your area. They can consult you on the best way to collect all of the money that you’re owed, even when policy claim limits are insufficient.