If you are injured in an accident, the most likely source of recovery against the responsible party will come from insurance. If it turns out that the responsible party does not have insurance, you might still be able to recover under your own insurance policy. Below is a general description of the types of insurances which are applicable when an individual is injured due to the negligence of another.
Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance
In Arizona and New Mexico the owner of a motor vehicle is required to carry liability insurance coverage with limits of at least $25,000.00 for bodily injury or death to any one person in any one accident and $50,000.00 for bodily injury or death of two or more persons in any one accident. These limits are the minimum amounts that Arizona and New Mexico law requires EVERY automobile owner to carry. In many instances the responsible party is carrying more than the minimum amounts required by Arizona law.
Who is protected under Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance
The insured person, or anyone who he permits to operate his vehicle , is protected from accidents caused by his own unintentional negligent acts against another. It does not protect the insured person when someone negligently injures him.
When will Liability Insurance not cover an accident?
Under most insurance policies, those acts which were wrongful and carried out intentionally will not be covered. This insurance is only intended to cover accidents and not intentional acts.
There will be no coverage under a liability policy if a particular individual has been specifically named as being excluded under that insurance policy. Even though the named individual is excluded under the policy others under that policy would still be covered.
How much does a Liability Insurance Carrier have to pay?
An insurance company is only obligated to pay up to the amounts of the insurance limits provided under the policy held by the responsible party. Even if the injured person has medical expenses or other damages which are well above the insurance limits, the only amount that the insurance company is required to pay is the amount contracted under the policy. In many instances people are injured where the responsible party is under-insured.
For example, under a $25,000.00/$50,000.00 policy where one person is injured and has $30,000.00 in hospital and other medical bills, the maximum amount the insurance company will pay that person is $25,000.00. If more than one person is injured in that same accident, the insurance company will pay no more than $50,000.00 between all injured persons.
What is Under-Insured Motorist Coverage?
In Arizona and New Mexico Under-Insured Motorist Coverage (UIM) is not required by law. UIM insurance is intended to cover any individual who is injured due to the negligence of another where the insurance limits of the responsible party will not be enough to cover all of the injured person’s personal injury claims. You should always contact your insurance company after you have been involved in an accident and specifically ask them if you are carrying Under-Insured Motorist Coverage and what those coverage amounts are.
What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Like UIM coverage, Uninsured Motorist Coverage is not required by law. Uninsured Motorist Coverage is intended to protect you if you are hit by a driver who is not carrying insurance. Even though Arizona requires all drivers to carry liability insurance, not all drivers do. You should check your policy to see if you are carrying Under-insured Motorist Coverage. For a few dollars more in premium you can protect yourself if you happen to get hit by someone who is not carrying insurance.
How does Uninsured Motorist Coverage Work?
If you determine that you were hit by an uninsured motorist, you need to call your insurance company and report the accident and let them know that you want to open a claim under your Un-insured Motorist Policy. Your insurance will then investigate the accident and if it is determined that the other driver was not insured, your insurance will compensate you for your personal injury damages just as if the other driver had actually had insurance.
Will my Under-insured or Uninsured Motorist Coverage also pay for damages to my car?
No! Under insured and Uninsured Motorist Coverage is only intended to cover you for your Personal Injury losses. There is a separate comprehensive and collision insurance that will cover damages to your vehicle if you are in an accident.
Will Under-Insured or Uninsured Motorist Coverage still apply if I am not in my car?
Yes. In Arizona and New Mexico, these type of coverages are personal to you and therefore follow you or anyone else covered under your policy. If you are riding in another vehicle or get hit by a vehicle and you are not in your car these policies will still cover you.
Can I/Should I have an attorney represent me against my own insurance company for a Uninsured Motorist (UM) claim?
Yes. Even though its your own insurance company, remember that their objective is to minimize the extent of the claim that they will have to pay out. You need to have an attorney represent you in order to ensure that you do nothing to prejudice the value of your claim.
What is Medical Payments Coverage?
Medical Payments Coverage or MEDPAY, is similar to having health insurance if you need to be treated for injuries you receive while in your vehicle. Under most medpay policies, all medical expenses that you incur for injuries resulting while in your vehicle will be paid out of your medpay policy. Even if you have health insurance and your bills have already been paid, you still might be able to submit those bills to your MEDPAY carrier and have them issue you a check for the amount of the original bills. If you have medpay, it does not matter whether you were at fault or not. MEDPAY covers all medical expenses incurred by you or yo