7 Critical Tips to Getting More Money for Your Auto Accident Case
CRITICAL TIP NUMBER 1
Medical Expense Benefits
MedPay or Medical Expense Benefits are benefits written into your own auto insurance policy that entitles you to a certain amount of money for your medical bills/expenses if you are ever injured in an automobile accident. The amount you are entitled to depends on: 1) how much you have incurred in medical bills, and 2) how much coverage you have.
This type of coverage is optional though, so you have to elect to have this coverage to take advantage of it. Insurance companies will often not mention this very important coverage, because it goes against their quotas, and insurance companies would prefer not to have to pay you anything for your medical expenses.
If you have MedPay on your auto insurance, then they must pay for any medical bills that you incur to treat accident-related injuries. Here is the best thing about MedPay… it is super cheap to add to your auto insurance policy!
Furthermore, if you have MedPay coverage it stacks! Let us suppose that you have $2,000 in MedPay coverage and you have 3 vehicles on your policy, you would get $2,000 multiplied by 3 (the number of vehicles on your policy) for a total of $6,000 in MedPay Coverage!
This means that if you have $6,000 in medical bills, your own insurance company has to pay you for your medical bills. At this point you may be asking, doesn’t that mean get paid twice for the same bill? And the answer to that is YES! Always remember to check this very important coverage on your policy
I recommend carrying at least $10,000 in MedPay coverage on your auto insurance policy.
CRITICAL TIP NUMBER 2
Uninsured and Underinsured Insurance Coverage
Often people get into auto accidents with other people who have no auto insurance coverage or low auto insurance coverage limits. These folks get left with injuries and damages, and the belief that there is no way to be compensated. This is not true if you have auto insurance though.
Your insurance policy has uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. This type of coverage protects you and allows you to seek reimbursement for your injuries and damages against your own insurance company if the at-fault party does not have insurance or has limits too low to cover the entirety of your damages and injuries. (Note – This is also why it is very important to have high uninsured/underinsured auto insurance coverage limits. These situations arise more often than you would think.)
I recommend getting at least $100,000 in UM/UIM coverage to make sure you are adequately protected.
CRITICAL TIP NUMBER 3
When people think of an auto accident injury claim, they are often thinking that their claim only involves the medical bills, medical treatment, and pain and suffering that is related to the injuries that they have, but, did you know that you are also entitled to wages you lost?
Whether you are an employee, an independent contractor, or a business owner, so long as you can prove to the insurance company that you missed out on income that you would have earned had you not been injured in an accident, then the insurance company is required to compensate you. (Note – your doctor must also sign off on a doctor’s note that states you should be out of work for this specific period of time. It is not enough to say that you need to miss work, you need a professional to agree that you need to miss work.)
Make sure you have documentation that shows exactly how much income you missed. Without documentation, the insurance company will not compensate you. If you are an independent contractor, you may need to use tax returns and deposit statements. If you are an employee, pay stubs will be enough. If you are a business owner, you may need to show tax returns, expense reports, deposit statements and more. Whatever your job classification, be prepared to document it.
CRITICAL TIP NUMBER 4
Cars that are involved in accidents take on varying degrees of damage. If you are involved in an accident, and the accident is not your fault, you have a right to have your car repaired by the at-fault party’s insurance company.
Additionally, the at-fault party’s insurance company also needs to compensate you for any diminished value to your vehicle, because vehicles that have been in accidents are not worth as much as those that haven’t. Diminished value in auto accident cases refers to the difference in value that your car is worth before an accident and after an accident.
For example, if your car is worth $20,000 and then you get into an accident, and your car is now worth $15,000, the insurance company for the at-fault party needs to pay you an additional $5,000 to compensate you for the loss in value that your vehicle has suffered.
Be on the lookout – Insurance companies do not like to pay for the diminished value of your vehicle. Additionally, when dealing with insurance companies, make sure you have some sort of proof or reference to show them how your vehicle’s value has diminished.
CRITICAL TIP NUMBER 5
Don't Repay Health Insurance
Did you know that in the state of Virginia, if you use your health insurance for medical services, the health insurance company is usually not allowed to ask for the money back? There are some exceptions to this rule, and we will address those shortly, but first allow me to explain exactly what I mean.
Suppose you went to the hospital after you were involved in an auto accident, and at the hospital, you used your health to pay for the visit which, for example, ended up costing $1,000. Then let’s suppose you settled your injury claim with the insurance company, and as part of your injury claim settlement proceeds, you received 1,000 dollars for the hospital bill from the car insurance company of the at-fault driver. The health insurance company here would typically want to be reimbursed those $1,000 dollars since they paid the bill, but in Virginia, health insurance companies are usually not allowed to subrogate or be reimbursed.
There are certain situations where health insurance companies can seek reimbursement for payments made. This includes when someone uses Medicare/Medicaid benefits or self-insured plans.
Be on the lookout when negotiating with insurance companies, because they will often try to tell you that because your medical bills have been paid by your health insurance, they do not need to pay for those bills. (In Virginia, THIS IS NOT TRUE!)
CRITICAL TIP NUMBER 6
Always take good pictures of the damage to your vehicle, and any severe injuries you may have. As odd as this may seem, graphic pictures help increase the value of your claim because it helps insurance adjusters realize what happened to you.
You’ve heard the expression that a picture is worth a thousand words? Here it could be worth thousands of dollars!
CRITICAL TIP NUMBER 7
If an at-fault driver was driving under the influence and that person’s Blood Alcohol Content (B.A.C.) is a .15 or greater, then injured people are entitled to punitive damages. These types of damages are the type that seeks to punish the at-fault party for engaging in such reckless and grossly negligent behavior
This claim for punitive damages will provide money that adds to, or is extra, to the money that would be paid to compensate an injured party.
Do not let an insurance adjuster low ball you when you are entitled to punitive damages for your claim.