Generally, there are three different cases when involved in a collision. First is property damage, second are PIP (personal injury protection) benefits, and third is the bodily injury liability case. Sometimes there is a fourth case for underinsured motorist coverage.
The personal injury claim is often the most important case and the goal is to avoid doing something that will defeat the case.
Examples of mistakes include:
- giving a recorded statement to the insurance company
- failing to seek treatment when hurt
- seeking short term treatment and stopping
- going to the wrong health care providers
Personal Injury Claims
The personal injury case is where you can financially recover for your "noneconomic" losses. Your life has been disrupted and you have been physically hurt due to no fault of your own and you deserve to be paid for that disruption including pain and suffering, mental anguish, inconvenience, disability, disfigurement, and loss of time. In Wichita and in Kansas, when injured in a car wreck, you have a right to recover for your past medical bills, your future medical bills (if supported by the doctors), your past wage loss, your future wage loss (if supported by the doctors), and the past and future noneconomic losses commonly known as pain and suffering. The only exceptions are if your injury is so minor that your bills don't reach $2000, or if you failed to maintain auto insurance on your vehicle (and can't find an exception to the Kansas No Pay No Play laws).
Property Damage Claims
The property damage case is to either fix your vehicle if repairs are less than the value of your vehicle or to pay you the fair market value of your vehicle (also known as actual cash value) plus sales tax and transfer of title fees. If your vehicle was towed to a tow lot, it is important to get the vehicle moved by the insurance company to an insurance lot quickly to avoid storage fees. You may be eligible for a rental car, but they don't pay for insurance on the rental and usually want the rental returned shortly after they make you an offer on your vehicle. Remember they are supposed to value your vehicle retail, not wholesale. If your vehicle is fixed, sometimes the value of your vehicle goes down due to the fact is has been wrecked. You may be eligible for a separate settlement on the property damage for the "diminished value" of your vehicle due to the wreck. Usually property damage claims should be resolved within a week or two following the collision.
PIP Benefit Claims
The personal injury protection benefit claim is part of Kansas no-fault laws. The purpose is to get injury victims some compensation upfront. These benefits come from your own vehicle insurer, or if not an owner, from the vehicle you were in at the time of the collision. Your insurer will pay the initial medical bills, up to your coverage limits, will pay your wage loss while off work, up to your coverage limits, and sometimes people also get additional benefits for occupational therapy, and for paying others to do their chores which can no longer be performed due to the injury.
The fourth possible case really depends upon how badly you were hurt. In Kansas, our state law only requires $25,000 of coverage for a bodily injury liability claim. Fortunately, a lot of people purchase better coverage than just the minimum. In the unfortunate case that the negligent party only has the minimum coverage, then you look to your own coverage. If your underinsured motorist coverage is higher than the person who caused the wreck, then you make a claim against your own insurer. You look for coverage first through the vehicle you were in, second against your own personal vehicle (if not in your vehicle at the time of the collision), and third through any auto insurance policy for any vehicle in your household (as long as the auto belongs to a relative). Your damages have to be valued high enough to get to this type of coverage. With the cost of medical care, sometimes, it doesn't take a lot of treatment to get to a high value.
We understand that auto accident claims can be complicated. If you have any questions or would like to hire a car accident lawyer, contact us today.