Every year, more than three million Americans receive injuries during car accidents on our roadways. These accidents can have lasting negative impacts on victims’ lives. Many individuals involved in motor vehicle collisions sustain serious physical and mental injuries as a result.
Fortunately, federal and state laws allow accident victims to pursue compensation for damages following a crash. One way to achieve this is through filing a bodily injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Bodily injury claims allow those injured in car accidents to recoup costs for medical treatment, legal fees, and lost wages.
The laws that surround bodily injury, however, can prove difficult to understand for those who aren’t familiar with the legal industry. Many accident victims fail to recognize that they have the opportunity to recover damages for some or all of their financial losses. Below, we’ve outlined some of the basics of bodily injury claims and the steps that victims should take to begin their pursuit of compensation. To talk about the specifics of your case Dolman Law Group has experienced bradenton personal injury attorneys ready to answer any question you may have.
What Is the Difference Between Personal Injury and Bodily Injury?
Many people use the terms “personal injury” and “bodily injury” interchangeably. This tends to lead to considerable confusion—especially for car accident victims who are already struggling to understand which steps they should take after a crash.
Personal injury falls under the umbrella of civil law. Personal injury law is the area of the law that allows injured parties to pursue damages for losses sustained due to an accident or similar incident. The term “personal injury” refers to any type of injury that occurs during an accident or incident.
Bodily injury, on the other hand, involves a more limited scope. Bodily injuries are particular injuries—caused by another party—that occur on a person’s body during an accident. Many criminal cases rely on the concept of bodily injury over personal injury when it comes time to claim damages.
Outside of criminal law, bodily injury tends to appear most often in insurance contexts. Drivers can even hold bodily injury liability insurance, which compensates victims when the driver that holds it causes injury. Some states require this coverage.
Bodily Injury Liability Insurance
Florida does not require drivers to hold bodily injury liability insurance to legally drive an automobile. In some cases, if a driver has been convicted of a DUI, he or she may be held responsible for acquiring bodily injury insurance before driving again. Drivers who elect to drive without bodily injury liability coverage should be aware of their legal responsibilities in the case of an accident. Florida maintains a legal guideline known as the Financial Responsibility Law.
This law mandates that drivers must hold two types of insurance: personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage liability. Bodily injury coverage is not required. Individuals without bodily injury coverage must provide financial coverage of AT LEAST $10,000 per person and $20,000 per accident. This amount is posted as a bond following an accident.
It’s important to recognize that many cases involving bodily injury incur extremely high costs. Oftentimes, the amounts listed above are not enough to cover the medical expenses and legal fees associated with such cases.
Is bodily injury insurance the same as uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance?
No. Underinsured or uninsured motorist insurance serves a separate purpose. It is intended to cover personal injury damages that the policyholder suffers during an accident if another party is liable. Bodily injury insurance covers personal injury damages that the non-policyholder suffers during an accident in which the policyholder is liable.
What damages are covered under bodily injury liability?
Bodily injury liability coverage is designed to help accident victims account for a range of expenses. These may involve costs like medical expenses and legal fees. If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident and may receive compensation through bodily injury insurance, damages may include:
- Medical costs| This refers to past, present, and future medical costs acquired as a result of the accident and any injuries sustained during it. Follow-up visits to doctors, ongoing physical therapy, and even emergency medical transport from the accident scene can all qualify
- Lost wages or income| Many car accidents prove severe enough that victims must take time off of work to recover. Some individuals hurt during crashes are even prevented from going back to the workforce altogether. Issues like these result in lost wages and decreased income, which can be recovered in court
- Legal fees| You’ll need a trustworthy and experienced attorney by your side as you begin the process of claiming bodily injury. Legal professionals collect fees to pay for their services. Other steps of the process, like filing certain paperwork, may also involve additional small fees. All of these are payable via bodily injury liability
The benefits of holding bodily injury auto insurance
Most car accidents are caused by other drivers’ negligence or recklessness. Some crashes, however, are almost unavoidable. Unpredictable or dangerous road and weather conditions often cause numerous accidents that would not occur otherwise. Scenarios like these position bodily injury auto insurance as a tool that any driver can benefit from keeping in their back pocket.
When a driver obtains bodily injury auto insurance, they also obtain protection against financial liability. Because bodily injury liability coverage pays for others’ expenses as the result of an accident that you are found liable for, it helps protect you from financial liability. The insurance will pay for victims’ expenses so that you don’t have to.
Steps to Take Before Filing Your Bodily Injury Claim
Victims who have sustained injuries during a car accident should take a few key steps before worrying about a bodily injury claim. The most important step is to seek appropriate medical attention immediately after the accident. Some injuries necessitate immediate transport to a medical facility or on-the-spot treatment. Even if you received care in one of these ways, you should still take the initiative to visit your primary care physician.
A visit to the doctor should be any victim’s first step—regardless of whether they’ve already received medical treatment. Those who were cleared to leave the scene of their accident should still update their doctor about the incident. Some injuries even fail to present themselves for some time after a crash. A visit to the doctor is a good way to ensure that no injuries went unnoticed.
If you’ve already received medical care, the doctor’s visit will allow you to bring your physician up to speed and confirm your current health. These victims, too, are at risk of delayed complications. Some injuries or other negative impacts of the crash may even have been overlooked in the hospital or by first responders.
One other important reason to ensure that you receive medical care following your accident lies in bodily injury insurance regulations. You must have ample medical records available if you wish to claim bodily injury and seek compensation for damages. Make sure your doctor takes thorough notes on your injuries’ severity.
How to File a Bodily Injury Claim
Retain a Seasoned Attorney
You’ll want an attorney to help guide you through the complex legal process as you begin your pursuit of compensation. A lawyer will be able to assist you in gathering and maintaining crucial records and documents. Many legal professionals even partner with experts from other industries (like doctors and automotive authorities) to strengthen clients’ cases.
Make sure that you feel like you can trust the attorney that you select. The process of pursuing compensation after a car accident can be long and confusing. You need a partner that you believe is willing to protect your rights and help make the process as straightforward as possible.
Prepare Documentation of Treatment
The at-fault driver’s insurance company’s primary concern will lie in the validity of your claim. If you want a chance at receiving financial compensation for your losses, you’ll need to prove that you sustained the injuries that you claim. You’ll also need to prove that you’ve received appropriate treatment. Successful documentation often proves a turning point in insurance claims. An identical claim may produce two very different settlements depending on the documentation provided. Try to make sure that the medical professionals who treat your injuries keep detailed records concerning your wellbeing from day one.
Collect medical records as you receive them, file them neatly and logically, and consider making copies to simplify the process. Some of the most notable information you’ll need to substantiate via documentation includes:
- The date of your injury
- The type of incident that caused your injury (i.e. a motor vehicle accident)
- Your prognosis and length of treatment
- Required medications
- Scarring or disability resulting from your injury
- Ongoing pain management
- Emotional distress
- Potential for future further injury
Commonly requested documentation includes:
- Medical bills
- Doctors’ reports
- X-ray, radiology, and other similar results
File Your Claim
After filing your claim alongside your attorney, it’s time to sit on your hands and wait awhile. Insurance adjusters must comb over every aspect of a claim before determining the degree of compensation that they should offer to victims. Your attorney should be able to offer a window of time during which you might expect to hear back from the adjuster. These time frames vary by state and policy.
What If Your Claim Is Denied?
Insurance companies care about one thing: saving money instead of paying it out to victims. All too often, insurance companies deny claims for bodily injury through any means possible. Common reasons include insurance premium payment delays and fraudulent injury claims. If your claim has been denied, you will receive legal notice of the denial.
The insurance company must provide a detailed explanation of which coverage was denied and why. If it turns out that your claim’s denial was unlawful, your lawyer will be able to help you approach the scenario again and fight for your rights. Your claim’s direction from here depends upon what your lawyer determines to be the best course of action. He or she may need to begin legal proceedings on your behalf.
Factors That Influence Bodily Injury Claim Payout
Many factors can influence the payout for a bodily injury claim. Some of these concepts are simple enough. Higher medical costs, for example, tend to be associated with higher settlements. This isn’t always the case—but it’s a good place for curious injury victims to start. Don’t forget that the claims adjuster will have to believe that all of the medical costs are warranted and make sense; you may not receive compensation for everything.
The location of your accident can change your payout, too. “Venue” is one of many factors that adjusters consider during the settlement process. Some venues are known for awarding large verdicts in bodily injury cases. Adjusters are more likely to offer higher settlements for claims involving venues like these. This helps prevent you from filing a lawsuit and walking away with even more cash.
Claiming Bodily Injury: An Attorney Can Help
Knowledgeable legal professionals have the resources, education, and experience required to help their clients make informed decisions. They understand that the time after an accident can be turbulent and frightening—and they want to help.
All too many bodily injury victims suffer in silence while negligent drivers escape responsibility for their actions. The only way to ensure that you receive the monetary assistance you deserve is to aggressively pursue your bodily injury insurance claim through legal means. A lawyer can help represent your best interests and protect your rights throughout a litany of legal proceedings and bureaucratic processes
Vehicle accident victims deserve assistance in fighting for their rights and obtaining compensation for their experiences. If you or a loved one have suffered an injury due to another driver’s recklessness or negligence, a personal injury attorney can help set you on the right path.
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