What Insurance Applies if My Child is Injured in a Car Accident?
When a child injury occurs in an automobile accident, it can be traumatic not only for the child, but for the parent. Many times, parents face seemingly unreasonable medical bills and wonder if insurance will pay them.
Firstly, automobile insurance coverage requirements and laws vary from state to state.
Here are the types of automobile insurance coverages that are typically available to provide compensation when a child injury occurs as a result of an automobile accident.
Even if a state does not require the various coverages below, it is a good idea to have these coverages in place for the protection of your child and other children as well.
PIP (Personal Injury Protection)
In Florida and some other states, automobile insurance policies carried by parents and other automobile owners typically have PIP (Personal Injury Protection).
PIP insurance applies if a child is injured as a result of an automobile accident.
It usually does not matter which driver was at fault for PIP to apply. Even if the accident is the fault of the parent, PIP insurance (under the parent’s automobile insurance policy) can cover medical bills.
PIP insurance under the parent’s policy will also cover the medical bills if the accident was the fault of another driver.
If a child was hit by a car while riding a bicycle or walking as a pedestrian, PIP insurance will cover the medical bills.
Most PIP policies cover up to $10,000 in medical bills. PIP typically covers 80% of reasonable and necessary medical expenses. The 20% that is not covered by PIP can be paid through health insurance, Med Pay coverage, private pay, or through the at-fault driver’s liability insurance.
PIP coverage can be quite confusing. As such, it is best to have a child injury attorney advise the parent as to the requirements, limitations, and coverage afforded by PIP insurance.
Med Pay (Medical Payment) Automobile Insurance
Med Pay (Medical Payment) insurance is an optional type of automobile insurance coverage.
Again, this type of insurance involves payment through the parent’s own automobile insurance company regardless of fault. Typically, Med Pay coverage is for Automobile Accidents costing $5,000 or more.
Like PIP, Med Pay policies and coverage can be confusing and it is best to consult with a personal injury attorney as to available coverage and proper payment of medical bills.
Bodily Injury Automobile Insurance
In many states, the purchase of bodily injury insurance is optional. Bodily injury insurance is a form of liability insurance that provides coverage or compensation to automobile accident victims who have been injured as a result of the negligence or fault of the insured driver.
In many states, the owner of the vehicle driven by the at-fault driver is also legally liable even if the owner was not in the vehicle at the time of the automobile accident.
The amount of bodily injury insurance coverage can be as low as $10,000 and as high as $1,000,000 or more.
Insurance companies will typically require the submission of medical bills, medical records, police reports, photographs, PIP payment logs, and other documentation before making a settlement offer.
Likewise, insurance companies will often dispute personal injury claims despite the submission of months—or even years—of medical records supporting the claim.
Since insurance companies have in-house counsel to protect their interests, it is helpful to have the services of a child injury lawyer to protect and enforce the rights of the injured child during every stage of the claim / case.
Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Automobile Insurance
In many states, the purchase of uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM) insurance is optional.
UM coverage applies if the at-fault driver or at-fault owner does not have bodily injury insurance or, in the alternative, does not have sufficient insurance coverage to adequately compensate the child injury victim for his or her automobile related personal injuries and related damages.
You can claim UM coverage under the parent’s policy and / or under the policy of the vehicle occupied by the child at the time of the automobile accident.
For instance, let’s assume that a child was in his father’s vehicle at the time of the accident. The child suffered a serious fracture to his arm that required a hospitalization and the related medical bills exceeded $50,000.
So, if the at-fault driver and owner did not have bodily injury coverage and the father did have UM coverage, this claim could be pursued under the father’s UM policy.
If we change the facts slightly and assume that the at-fault driver and owner had a $10,000 bodily injury policy, a claim could also be pursued under the father’s UM policy since the value of the injuries clearly exceed the $10,000 bodily injury insurance limits.
When pursuing a UM or a bodily injury insurance claim, there are many legal “hoops” to jump through.
For instance, signing just one document, giving inaccurate information, or failing to get the right medical treatment can seriously diminish the value of a case.
Furthermore, many parents and guardians unknowingly waive or sign away important legal rights when they deal with insurance companies without the services and representation of a child injury lawyer.