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WHO WILL PAY YOU WHEN YOU’RE INJURED?

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By Claudine A. Cloutier

Too frequently folks who suffer disabling injuries learn that the person or entity responsible cannot compensate them for the full amount of their damages.  When your life has been altered through no fault of your own, it is heart-breaking to realize that there are no funds to provide for your basic needs.  Most personal injury lawyers have had the terrible experience of being unable to help severely injured individuals because there is simply no money to be had from the at-fault party.  It certainly offends anyone’s sense of justice to see injuries immediately lead to financial ruin for someone who did nothing wrong.To illustrate the point, consider this example: if you sustain injuries in a motor vehicle accident resulting in medical bills of $30,000 (a modest amount of bills these days) your health insurance may pay those bills for you.  But health insurers are generally entitled to receive back any money they’ve paid on your behalf out of any settlement you get from the at-fault party.  If the at-fault driver carries only $20,000 in coverage, you may not receive any money at all for lost wages, pain, and any ongoing damages.

In order to avoid being in this unfortunate situation, there are a few things that people can do to protect themselves.  First, with respect to automobile insurance coverage, ensure that you carry very high underinsured motorists coverage.  This will provide you with the potential for recovery in the event that someone who injures you in an auto accident does not carry much insurance.  Second, with respect to PIP coverages on your automobile insurance, ensure that you have not taken any deductibles.  Third, consider purchasing short term and/or long term disability benefits to protect you in the event that you are not able to work.  Fourth, do not get paid under the table because doing so may eliminate your ability to qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits.  Finally, consider purchasing supplemental insurance to protect yourself or to address incidental costs.

Once you have been injured, consult an attorney as soon as possible so that an appropriate strategy can be devised to protect your interest.