Several separate insurance coverages exist under which an accident victim may be compensated. The following is a brief synopsis of the most common coverages involved in injury claims:
Liability insurance coverage is the primary source of compensation following an accident. If another driver was clearly at fault for the accident, your damages will be paid under his/her liability policy. Losses covered by liability coverage (as well as UM/UIM coverage) include medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of income, and any medical costs, pain and suffering, loss of income, and/or rehabilitation that will be required in the future. Note that these benefits are paid to a third party to whom the insured is liable. You cannot be compensated under your own liability policy.
Uninsured (UM) / Underinsured (UIM) Motorist Coverage
This is coverage for which you pay premiums, and which your own insurer provides. It covers you in the event of an accident caused by someone with no liability insurance (uninsured or UM), or someone whose liability insurance is insufficient to compensate you for your losses (underinsured or UIM). UM/UIM coverage is not mandatory in Nevada, but is often necessary to be made whole following an accident.
Additionally, UM coverage can be a means of recovery when there is a dispute as to who is at fault for the accident. For example, T-bone accidents often result in finger-pointing and disputed fault. Even if the adverse driver has a large liability policy, his/her insurer may decide that you are at fault, and refuse to extend an offer.
Under these circumstances, it may be possible to be compensated through your own UM policy. UM coverage is provided by your own insurer, which owes you, as an insured, a fiduciary duty to act in your best interests. In theory, this means that the insurer must give you the benefit of the doubt, possibly resulting in an offer for at least a portion of your damages. Keep in mind that the purpose of UM/UIM coverage is to safeguard against another party’s inadequate liability coverage. Accordingly, in most circumstances, UM/UIM recoveries come only after the liability claim has been resolved.
Medical Payment Coverage
Medical Payment coverage, also known as “med-pay,” will cover the cost of your medical bills that result from a qualifying accident/injury. This is “no-fault” coverage, meaning that fault is irrelevant. Even if brought about by your own negligence, your accident-related medical treatment will be covered. Med-Pay benefits are paid by your own insurer, and do not cover pain and suffering or loss of income. As indicated by its name, this coverage applies only to payment of medical costs.
If you have questions about the application of these coverages, or about how much you need in order to protect yourself and your family, feel free to contact our office. We will help you find the information you need to make an educated decision that is right for you.