Frequently Asked Questions - What is Bodily Injury coverage?
If you are ever injured in any type of accident as a result of the negligence of someone else, whether it is another individual or some type of corporate entity (corporation, partnership, etc.), one of the most important things that you, and our law firm, need to know is whether the negligent party has any insurance coverage that applies to your accident AND if so, whether that policy contains Bodily Injury Coverage.
What is Bodily Injury Coverage? The short answer is that Bodily Injury (BI) Coverage is the type of insurance coverage contained within a liability insurance policy that can then be utilized by the at-fault party’s insurance company to pay for most types of damage claims that arise out of any personal injuries sustained by you or others involved in the accident at issue. For instance, in a motor vehicle (auto) crash, if you are injured in the crash, you want the at-fault driver to have auto insurance on the vehicle that he was driving and for his insurance policy to contain BI coverage on that vehicle. If there is no B.I. coverage contained within the at-fault party's insurance policy, whether it’s an auto crash, slip and fall or some other type of incident, then you will have to seek to find pertinent coverage from some other source in order to obtain payment of the various aspects of your claim. If your accident is a motor vehicle accident, you would look to see whether your own motor vehicle insurance policy contains Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage and if you do have that type of coverage, then your claims would then be directed to your own carrier under the UM portion of your policy.
Insurance policies contain a multitude of different types of coverages. Almost all homeowners insurance policies (which provide various types of insurance coverage to the specific homeowner(s) and their insured property) and Commercial General Liability (CGL) insurance policies, which is the type of insurance policy that generally provides liability insurance coverage to businesses or corporations, typically include some amount of Bodily Injury Coverage although there are some such policies that provide only property damage or contents coverages. However, these are the exceptions as generally speaking, a homeowners or CGL policy will generally include some amount of Bodily Injury Liability coverage. Moreover, the BI coverage contained within a homeowners policy typically provides coverage for not only negligent conditions present on the insured home/property that cause you to be injured but also negligent acts committed by the Named Insured (the homeowner(s)) off the property, subject to excluded acts that typically include anything to do with driving a motor vehicle (which instead are covered by the insured’s auto policy).
When our law firm is retained by someone involved in any type of accident, one of the first things that we do is to send out what is referred to as a Letter of Representation (LOR) to both your insurance company and the insurance company that insures the at-fault party. We request that these insurance companies provide us with a copy of all applicable insurance policies within 30 days of the date of our letter and generally speaking, the insurance companies comply with this request as there is a Florida law that requires them to do so in most situations. Once we receive the insurance company's response to our LOR, we are then in a position to review the policies and provide you with information on whether the policy includes any Bodily Injury Coverage and if so, what are the policy limits under that type of coverage.
It is important to note that essentially all types of coverages provided under any insurance policy include specified Policy Limits for each type of coverage provided under the policy. This caps or limits, in most situations, the insurance companies’ responsibility to pay damages under these coverages to whatever the applicable Policy Limits are, meaning that is the Maximum that the insurance company would ever have to pay. Any amount in excess of those limits, generally speaking, has to be paid directly by the Insured (i.e. at-fault party). Although Florida law does not prohibit you from filing a claim against an individual or a business for an amount in excess of the applicable Policy Limits contained within their insurance policy, nor are you prohibited from filing a claim against them IF they do not have any applicable BI insurance coverage, practically speaking, our experience has been that it is extremely difficult to obtain any substantial payment directly from the at-fault individuals. The phrase, “You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip”, comes into play here as most folks don’t have a significant amount of collectable cash or assets and those that do not obtain an insurance policy that includes Bodily Injury Coverage are frequently judgment proof, which means it therefore may not be worth pursuing a claim against them. Deciding whether to file a claim against an uninsured individual or company is a decision that is made by our firm on a case by case basis, after all available facts and options are thoroughly investigated and analyzed, so please feel free to contact us and let us help you investigate and analyze your case for you.
In the motor vehicle accident type of claim, and particularly within the State of Florida, there are many cases in which the at-fault party either does not have any insurance at all on his vehicle, which occurs way too often even though this is a violation of Florida law, or even if that at-fault party has a policy of insurance on his motor vehicle, there is a decent chance that that policy will not include Bodily Injury Coverage. The reason for this is that Florida law does not require a motor vehicle liability policy to include Bodily Injury Coverage. Rather, the only types of insurance coverage required under Florida's motor vehicle liability insurance laws is Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, which is generally available only to the occupants of that specific vehicle , and property damage liability coverage, which only pays for the repair/ replacement value of your vehicle and even then only up to the property damage liability policy limits amount. Since there are so many vehicles that utilize the public roads of the State of Florida that are either completely uninsured or which do not contain Bodily Injury Coverage, our firm strongly suggests that you obtain uninsured motorist coverage under your own auto insurance policy in order to protect you from the negligence of these types of uninsured drivers.
When the at-fault driver does have BI coverage under his auto policy, the BI policy limits can range from $10,000.00 per claim/$20,000.00 per accident up to $1 million per claim/$2 million per accident, or potentially more. Certain individuals may also have an umbrella/excess policy that contains bodily injury coverage limits in excess of the BI limits contained within his/her primary policy.
In a homeowners-type policy, generally speaking the amount of Bodily Injury Coverage that will be included within these types of policies ranges from $100,000.00 up to $1 million or more, depending upon the financial status or sophistication of the particular homeowner. If your claim is against a business that has a CGL policy, generally speaking the amount of Bodily Injury Coverage contained within that type of policy ranges from $100,000.00 on the low end up to $1 million, or more, on the high end. Moreover, as stated before, both businesses and certain individuals may also have an umbrella/excess insurance policy that contains additional Bodily Injury Coverage on top of the amount of Bodily Injury Coverage provided by their primary policy.
As you can see, it is very important to learn as quickly as possible, regardless of the type of accident that you may be involved in, whether the at-fault party has insurance coverage and if so, whether that policy contains Bodily Injury Coverage. Your attorneys at Trial Pro are all well versed on these issues and we are ready and willing to help you so please feel free to contact us by telephone, email or on the Web.