Protecting Yourself, Your Family & Your Wealth
How Do You Protect Yourself, Your Family & Your
Wealth After a Collision?
Review some Safe Driving & Biking Tips to Help Keep You & Your Family Safe!
“When you are young and healthy, it never occurs to you that in a single second your whole life could change.” Annette Funicello
If you’ve been in a crash, what do you do now? How do you protect yourself, your family and your wealth? If you’re like most people, you have three big concerns. One, how do I get my car fixed ASAP? Without a car, I can’t go to the doctor. I can’t go to work. I can’t even get the kids to school. Second, how am I going to pay for the ambulance, the ER visit and my medical treatment? I don’t have health insurance. I can’t afford to go to the doctor. Third, if I have to miss work, how will I pay my bills? Will anyone reimburse me for my financial losses?
If you’ve been injured in a crash because of the fault of another, you have certain rights. I call these your Collision Rights.
KNOW YOUR COLLISION RIGHTS!
On an average day in Utah, there are 143 car crashes involving 353 people with 61 people being injured and 1 person being killed each day. Every 10 minutes another car crash occurs. The estimated economic loss in Utah, in 2011, because of these crashes was $1.46 billion.
1. Right to a Rental Car. If your car was damaged in a crash caused by the fault of another, the other person’s insurance should provide you with a rental car until your car is repaired or you get a reasonable settlement offer for the damage to your car. If the other person’s insurer delays in accepting responsibility for the crash, you should check your own insurance to see if you have rental car coverage.
2. Right to Have Your Car Repaired. The at-fault driver’s insurance should pay to repair your car or pay you the value of your car if the carrier believes that your car should be totaled. If you don’t feel like you are being treated fairly by the other person’s insurer, I can help you, without charge, (i) get a rental car paid for by the other person’s insurer and (ii) get a fair settlement for the damage to your car.
3. Right to Have Your Medical Bills Paid. If you have Utah automobile insurance on your car, your own insurance carrier should pay the first $3,000 of your reasonable and necessary medical expenses under your own “personal injury protection” coverage or “PIP.” Some folks refer to this as no-fault coverage because your own insurance company pays regardless of fault. $3,000 is the minimum amount. You may be entitled to more if you purchased more coverage from your insurance company.
If you don’t have health insurance benefits, you may have difficulty getting proper medical care unless you can afford to pay cash for that care.
GETTING PROPER MEDICAL CARE AFTER A CRASH OFTEN IS ESSENTIAL TO A FULL RECOVERY AND YOUR LONG-TERM WELL BEING. You want to avoid gaps in your treatment because it may complicate your recovery and have long-term consequences.
If you don’t have insurance and you can’t afford to pay for on-going medical care, I have been able to help people, like you, continue with their necessary medical treatment. I work with medical providers in the community who are willing to provide treatment based on a lien you give the medical provider against any future settlement or judgment. If you have any questions about this, please call me at 435.986.2222 or contact me.
4. Right to Have Some of Your Wage Loss Reimbursed. Under your PIP coverage, if you were earning money at the time of the crash, you are entitled to the lesser of $250 per week or 85% of any loss of your gross income from your inability to work. This benefit, however, does not cover the first three days of disability, unless the disability continues for longer than two consecutive weeks after the date of injury. This benefit only lasts for a maximum of 52 consecutive weeks.
5. Right to Recover Some Household Expenses. Under your PIP coverage, if you are unable to perform your regular household chores, or need assistance, you may receive an amount not exceeding $20 per day for a maximum of 365 days for services actually rendered or expenses reasonably incurred for services that you no longer can perform.
6. Right to Recover Death Benefits. Under your PIP coverage, if someone died in the crash, the deceased’s heirs may receive $3,000 in compensation and up to $1,500 for funeral, burial or cremation benefits.
7. Right to Compensation for Pain and Suffering. Under Utah law, unless your medical expenses exceed $3,000 you are NOT entitled to any compensation for your general damages which include pain and suffering unless you suffered other injuries in the crash such as dismemberment, permanent disfigurement, permanent disability or permanent impairment. If your reasonable and necessary medical expenses are greater than $3,000, you ARE entitled to be fairly and adequately compensated for your pain and suffering.
8. Right to Be Reimbursed for All of Your Lost Income and to Be Compensated for Your Loss of Earning Capacity. If you suffered a loss of income because of the crash, you are entitled to be compensated for that loss from the person who caused your injuries. You also are entitled to be compensated for any future lost earnings, including lost benefits and any loss in your earning capacity.
9. Right to Compensation for any Disfigurement. You have a right to be compensated for any disfigurement caused by the crash.
10. Right to Compensation for Diminution in the Quality of Your Life. You have the right to be fairly and adequately compensated to the extent that the crash has prevented you from pursuing your ordinary affairs and to the extent that you have been limited in your enjoyment of life. For example, if, before the crash, you were an avid basketball player, pianist, dancer, hunter, golfer, etc. and you no longer can engage in these activities, or it is difficult to engage in these activities because of the crash, you are entitled to be fairly and adequately compensated for this loss. Oftentimes the diminution in the quality of one’s life is by far the greatest loss. This loss, like a rock thrown in a still pond, ripples through and affects all aspects of the injured person’s life.
After a crash, the insurance company for the person causing the crash wants you to settle quickly before you fully appreciate the extent of your harms and losses. You should not settle before you understand your rights and know the extent of your harms and losses. Once you accept money in settlement of your injury claims, the insurance company will require you to sign a release. Once you sign the release, you are on your own. If your condition worsens or you incur additional medical bills, you will not be compensated for that.
If you have any questions regarding your Collision Rights or you’re concerned about how you are being treated by the insurance company, I will gladly answer your questions for free. If you’re having difficulty finding a medical provider to treat you for your injuries, I may be able to help you with that also. Don’t worry. I will not charge you for my help unless you hire me and I recover money for you.
PROTECTING YOUR WEALTH
Because a reportable crash happens every 10 minutes in Utah, you should protect yourself by making certain you are adequately insured. The minimum limits in Utah for car crashes is only $25,000 per person. If you’re injured by another, and the value of your harms and losses exceed $25,000, you probably will not be fairly and adequately compensated for your losses unless the person causing the crash has substantial personal assets.
You can protect yourself from this dilemma by purchasing additional coverage from your insurance agent. For example, you may want to purchase underinsured motorist coverage. This coverage protects you if you’re injured by someone who doesn’t have sufficient insurance to fairly and adequately compensate you. You also may want to purchase uninsured motorist coverage which protects you if you’re in a crash with someone who has no insurance. Underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage are relatively cheap when you consider the protection this coverage affords you. Under Utah law, your insurance company must offer this coverage to you and explain its benefits.
You also may want to discuss with your insurance agent increasing your PIP coverage from the minimum limits of $3,000.
To protect your own personal assets, you should discuss with your insurance agent whether you have sufficient insurance to protect you in the event you are the person causing injury to another. You may even want to consider purchasing an umbrella policy which provides extra coverage in the event of a loss.
Please don’t hesitate to call me at 435.986.2222 or contact me if you have any questions regarding your Collision Rights.