Adjusting to life with an acquired disability can be a difficult transition for anyone. It’s even more difficult to make sense of your new limitations when the accident that caused them was preventable. People who have been injured as the result of someone else’s negligence often feel understandably frustrated that they’re paying with their futures—and, all too often, their money—for someone else’s mistake.
Fortunately, people who are facing massive bills to retrofit their homes, buy new vehicles, and purchase mobility devices after an accident may have some financial recourse. If you were temporarily or permanently disabled as the result of someone’s negligence, these resources may help you pay for accommodations.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance Coverage
Whether or not an insurance company is required to offer you PIP coverage will vary from state to state. In some states, it is customary to refer to this kind of coverage as med pay. PIP coverage is given by your own car insurance company; it is considered “no fault” coverage, meaning that it does not matter whether or not someone else’s negligence was the cause of your injuries.
PIP functions like a bucket: each policy holder has a set amount of money, often between $10,000 and $20,000, that they can use to cover certain types of expenses like medical bills and time off work. PIP can pay for mobility devices such as crutches and wheelchairs, but only if a doctor states that these items are medically necessary.
Because the average person’s PIP “bucket” is relatively small in the grand scheme of things, it’s unlikely that someone with a permanent acquired disability would have anything left over after their bills for initial life-saving treatment to pay for major expenses like a wheelchair accessible van or retrofits to a house. However, this insurance coverage can provide some immediate assistance with certain costs while the injured person weighs their other legal options.
Third-Party Liability Insurance Coverage
If someone else’s negligence caused your injury, it is possible that this person or entity carries a liability insurance policy that will pay for the damages they have caused. If you were injured in an accident involving a motor vehicle, the other driver should have car insurance; if they were driving a commercial vehicle, the company that owns or operates the vehicle may have additional insurance coverage.
If you were injured at another person’s home, that person may have homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. If you were injured at a business, you may be covered by premises liability insurance. If you were injured as the result of negligence on the part of a governmental agency or one of its employees, you may be able to file a claim against the government. Some professionals, such as doctors, have insurance specific to their fields that will cover malpractice and other forms of negligence.
The amount of money that you can get from someone else’s insurance policy will vary based on the terms of that policy, the laws in your area, and the strength of the case that you present. If a case goes to trial, the jury will have a say in deciding how much money you are owed, and juries are often unpredictable.
Legal Assistance for Injured People
Navigating the world of civil claims can be difficult for people without proper, thorough legal knowledge and training. If you have been injured in an accident, an attorney with experience in personal injury litigation may be able to help you. Personal injury attorneys typically offer a free consultation to victims in order to outline the facts of the case and the attorney’s opinion on its strengths and weaknesses.
Personal injury lawyers also typically do not ask for payment up front; most work on a contingency fee basis, which means that the client does not pay anything until the case is successfully resolved. Any attorney fees and costs incurred throughout the duration of the case are deducted after the attorney has recovered a settlement or verdict on the client’s behalf.
One very important thing to be wary of is any lawyer or law firm which advertises or promises a quick settlement or resolution of your case. As difficult as it may be to remain patient during the insurance claims process – particularly when dealing with a life-altering injury and the lifestyle adjustments that may come with it – fair compensation and resolution of your claim should be the absolute priority of any attorney representing you. Once you close your case it can never be reopened, and an attorney who is more focused on the speedy resolution of your case likely does not have your best interests in mind.