Your Rights After Being Injured In a Car Crash
Recovery from liability coverage – If you are injured due to someone else’s negligence, you are generally entitled to recover against that person for your injuries. In Washington, drivers are required to carry at least $25,000 in liability insurance coverage, and many people have more. The negligent driver’s liability auto insurance coverage covers injuries and damages caused by the crash. Although the claim is technically against the other driver individually, it is generally the insurance company that is on the hook to pay damages.
Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage – Under most auto insurance policies, people have what is called “PIP coverage.” This is a no-fault benefit which covers medical expenses and a portion of the injured person’s lost wages, if the injuries prevent the person from working. PIP claims are brought with your own insurance company, and not the other driver’s insurance company. However, if you are a passenger in someone else’s car at the time of a crash, or a pedestrian hit by an automobile, you are entitled to PIP coverage under the driver’s policy. Most PIP policies cover up to either $10,000 or $35,000 in medical expenses.
Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage – Most auto insurance policies include what is called “underinsured motorist coverage” or “uninsured motorist coverage”. This is a type of coverage obtained from your own insurance company, which covers your injuries in the event that you are injured due to someone else’s negligence, but that person either has no insurance, or insufficient insurance to cover the full value of your claim. For example, if you suffer catastrophic injuries and the other driver has only $25,000 in liability coverage, your own UIM coverage would kick in to cover the remainder of your damages, up to the UIM policy limit. Although you could attempt to recover the balance from the driver individually, most people simply do not have the money to pay amounts over and above liability coverage. For this reason, it generally makes more sense to pursue a UIM claim instead, and we recommend that everyone carry UIM coverage with their auto insurance policy.
IFCA and bad faith claims – If an insurance company does not properly handle your claim, you may have additional claims against the insurance company for its misconduct. IFCA is the Insurance Fair Conduct Act, which is a Washington law setting forth certain standards and rules insurance companies must comply with. If an insurance company does not follow the rules set forth in IFCA, you might have a claim for additional recovery from the insurance company. All insurance companies have a duty to handle claims in good faith. This applies to PIP coverage, liability coverage, and UIM coverage. However, there are some limitations on who is allowed to bring those claims against the insurance company, and these claims can be tricky to handle. For this reason, it is important to consult with a lawyer if you believe you have a bad faith claim against an insurance company.