By: Josh Ferrell
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WHAT IS THE BODILY INJURY PORTION OF AN INSURANCE POLICY?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that more than 2.3 million people are treated at hospital emergency rooms every year in the U.S. due to motor vehicle-related injuries. As a result, bodily injury liability (BI)—a type of coverage that pays for medical bills and injuries stemming from car accidents—is one of the most important types of auto insurance you can have. Additionally, in the four states we cover, it is mandatory. In short, bodily injury liability coverage protects you for the personal injuries suffered by another in a wreck that y0u caused.
How Much Bodily Injury Liability Coverage Required in Every State?
The required minimum amount of liability coverage for bodily injury liability varies from state to state and ranges from $10,000 to $50,000 per claimant, with the most common minimum being $25,000. West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee all require a minimum of $25,000 per claimant.
Minimum liability coverage for bodily injury liability per accident ranges from $30,000 to $100,000, with the most common required minimum policy being $50,000. West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee all require a minimum of $25,000.00.
As a policyholder, you may also have the option of purchasing bodily injury liability coverage with higher policy limits than these.
What Does Bodily Injury Liability Cover?
Bodily injury liability covers the medical expenses related to injuries sustained in a car accident. This may include, but is not limited to:
- Medical Bills. BI covers expenses like hospital bills, rehabilitation or physical therapy, home healthcare, and follow-up appointments related to car accident injuries.
- Lost Wages. Someone who has been seriously injured may be unable to go to work for an extended period of time. This coverage can also compensate them for the loss of income they experience due to their injuries.
- Funeral Costs. If someone is killed in a car accident, bodily injury liability may provide compensation for end of life care and funeral expenses as part of a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Legal Fees. If a driver is sued by another motorist after a car accident, BI coverage can compensate you for legal defense fees and court costs.
- Pain and Suffering. Unlike the other examples listed above, calculating how much an injured victim deserves for their physical pain and emotional suffering after an accident can be tricky. That being said, bodily injury liability can cover these damages.
Does Bodily Injury Liability Cover Me?
Drivers in “no-fault” states – such as Kentucky – benefit from a type of mandated insurance coverage called Personal Injury Protection (PIP). However, if you live in an at-fault state, the insurance company of the motorist who was at fault pays for the other party’s damages.
This is where BI coverage comes into play. Unfortunately, your bodily injury liability coverage does not pay your medical expenses. Bodily injury liability coverage under your insurance policy only covers the medical expenses for the other motorist(s), pedestrians, or cyclists involved in an accident you caused. If you live in an at-fault state but purchased optional coverage like PIP or MedPay, you can utilize this additional coverage for yourself even if you were the one who caused an accident.
Does Bodily Injury Liability Cover Passengers?
Since bodily injury liability is a type of third-party auto insurance, it will not cover your injuries. However, it can cover the medical expenses of your passengers if you are at fault in the collision. A BI policy will also cover the passengers of other vehicles involved in the accident. Again, you can often utilize PIP coverage or MedPay to supplement your medical expenses and those of your passengers.
How Much Bodily Injury Liability Do I Need?
While it might be tempting to go with the lowest possible car insurance policy limits in order to save money on your monthly premium, this may cost you in the long run if you cause a car accident that results in multiple injured passengers, catastrophic injuries, or death.
Although it may increase your monthly premium, investing in a higher bodily injury liability limit can help you protect yourself financially. Should the medical expenses from an accident exhaust your policy limits, an injured driver or passenger can sue you for their additional damages and your assets could be at risk. For this reason, some experts recommend choosing a policy with limits equal to or greater than your total assets.
As a more general guideline, Consumer Reports suggests an auto insurance policy that covers $100,000 per person and up to $300,000 per accident, in addition to property damage of up to $100,000. If you also own a home, business, or have other assets you wish to protect, it might be worth considering an umbrella policy (excess coverage) that will protect your car and home and offer better discounts.
SERIOUS INJURIES – REQUIRE SERIOUS ATTORNEYS
Our firm understands the repercussions of a serious accident. If you are injured due to another party’s negligence, you should not have to fight the uphill battle for compensation on your own. When you hire Ferrell & Brown, you are hiring a devoted, caring, and aggressive team who will tenaciously fight for you. If you or someone you know was injured in a wreck and wishes to schedule a consultation, please do not hesitate to contact Ferrell & Brown.
If you have any questions not answered above – or if you want clarification of anything in this post – your friends at Ferrell & Brown, are happy to assist!