According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States alone, in 2020, 41,000 people died from an auto accident, and 2.1 million people visited the emergency room for injuries sustained during an auto accident. These numbers mean that $430 billion was spent on car accidents alone that year, according to the same report.
Even under the best circumstances, getting into an auto accident is no fun. It can quickly become even worse when you experience a serious personal injury and your medical bills begin to surpass the insurance limit. Are you curious about how you can prevent this situation from happening to you? First, let’s start with some basics.
What is Liability Insurance?
According to the Colorado General Assembly, liability insurance is designed to cover the costs of bodily injury and damages to the other person’s property if you were in an accident that proved to be your fault. If the accident was not your fault, then the other person’s liability insurance will be responsible for paying for your medical bills and the damages to your vehicle. Under the law, those who own a vehicle in Colorado are required to have auto insurance that includes liability coverage.
From your standpoint, liability insurance protects you in case you cause an accident. While this won’t help pay your medical bills (if you were at fault), it will help you from getting into debt over someone else’s medical bills. Although you can always purchase more coverage, Colorado state requires that your liability insurance cover the following per accident, according to the Colorado General Assembly:
- $25,000 to end-of-life or bodily injury costs of one person.
- $50,000 to end-of-life or bodily injury costs of any additional people.
- $15,000 to personal property damage.
How Do Insurance Policy Limits Work?
According to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association (RMIIA), an insurance policy limit is the total amount of money that the auto insurance policy will pay. After this, you will be expected to cover costs. Assuming you cannot cover costs, there are options.
Can I Sue for More Than the Insurance Policy Limits?
In the event that either your auto insurance or the other driver’s auto insurance will not cover the costs of your medical bills and the losses you’ve endured, then you have a couple of options for filing a lawsuit:
1) You can sue the other driver personally (if this person was at fault).
2) You could consider a bad faith lawsuit against the insurance company.
According to Investopedia, a bad faith lawsuit can be filed against the insurance company when the insurance company is:
- Denying authentic claims.
- Failing to investigate claims timely.
- Purposefully misconstruing policy wording.
- Not being clear about exclusions and policy limits before the contract was signed.
- Requesting unreasonable “proof” to cover a loss.
What to Do if Medical Bills Are More Than the Policy Limit
If the other driver was at fault in your accident and their auto insurance policy doesn’t have you covered, you will have to depend on your insurance limit. If the other driver was at fault and did not have insurance, you will also be dependent on your insurance limit (assuming you have uninsured motorist insurance).
Make sure you’re covered with an umbrella policy
Another option is to make sure that your auto insurance includes an umbrella policy before auto accidents even happen. According to Forbes, an umbrella policy kicks in after the amount covered by your liability insurance runs out. This gives you extra protection in case the other driver tries to sue you for damages in an accident that goes over your liability insurance limit.