For many people, life after a serious car accident will never be the same. If you were involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault and you are now dealing with the physical, financial, and emotional aftermath, you deserve help. You should not have to bear the burden of the recovery process and all that it entails on your own.
Compensation for things like medical bills and lost wages can go a long way in facilitating the best possible recovery for your situation. However, at the Law Office of Todd W. Burris, we often meet with clients who are confused about how to get compensation when Kentucky is a choice no-fault state. Here is some valuable information to know about Kentucky’s no-fault laws:
What Does No-Fault Mean?
Kentucky drivers are required to carry $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance coverage. In a no-fault state, each driver’s own insurance company will pay for damages after an accident. This is regardless of fault, which means another driver could run a red light, hit your vehicle, and then your own insurance company would still cover the following damages:
- Medical bills for your accident-related injuries
- Lost income
- Funeral or burial costs
- Replacement services for chores or other tasks you cannot perform because of accident injuries
After being involved in an accident in Kentucky, you’ll want to notify your insurance company as soon as possible. It is wise to practice restraint when speaking with the insurance company, though. Only stick to the facts of what happened, and avoid phrases like “I’m fine” or “I’m doing alright” when the agent asks how you’re doing. What you might think of as a societal nicety might be twisted into you admitting that you are not in any pain.
If it is unclear how your injuries will play out, refuse to provide any comments on your physical health until you’ve had time to see the doctor or undergo further examination and treatment. Be wary of any requests to hand over your medical records, as well. If the insurance company finds any evidence of something they believe is a pre-existing condition, they could use that as justification for lowering or even denying compensation.
You may also have legal justification for filing a personal injury lawsuit. You can hold the at-fault driver responsible for damages via such a claim if your medical expenses exceed $1,000 or you suffered:
- Permanent disfigurement
- Permanent loss of a body function
- Permanent injury or disability
- A compressed, displaced, or compound fracture of a bone
If your medical bills are less than $1,000 and you did not suffer any type of disfigurement or permanent injury, you will not be able to file a personal injury claim. Fortunately, you will still be able to rely on your own insurance coverage.
Unfortunately, your insurance company may not be looking out for your best interests. An insurance company is just that—a company. With profits prioritized over people, you will need to be sure you have a competent advocate on your side. When you choose to work with an attorney, you’re signaling to the insurance company that you mean business and that you will not accept less than what you need for the best possible recovery.
Where Does Choice Come In?
Kentucky is one of three states that follows the choice no-fault doctrine. Residents are allowed to opt out of the state’s no-fault limitations. This is where “choice” comes in. You can choose to follow no-fault rules with PIP coverage or reject this type of insurance coverage and rules. When you opt out of PIP coverage and compensation, you are doing two things:
- Securing the right to sue other drivers after an accident regardless of expense and injury thresholds
- Opening yourself up to being sued by other people after a car accident
Declining PIP coverage does not mean you will be allowed to drive around without any auto insurance coverage at all. If you opt out of the no-fault system, you’ll be required to carry the following minimum insurance coverage:
- Coverage for bodily injury liability up to $25,000 per person with a $50,000 maximum per accident
- Coverage for property damage liability up to $10,000 per accident
If you do not maintain the above coverage, you may have the following minimum coverage instead:
- Combined liability coverage of $60,000
- Uninsured motorist coverage that is equal to Kentucky minimum bodily injury limits
Should I Opt Out of No-Fault Insurance?
There are both advantages and disadvantages to having PIP insurance coverage in a no-fault system. While there will always be bureaucratic red tape when dealing with an insurance company, you’ll likely have your claim paid much more quickly within the no-fault system. There is no need to worry about proving fault or going back and forth with both your own insurance company as well as the other driver’s auto insurer.
Property and vehicle damage are not covered by PIP insurance, though. If your vehicle was damaged in the collision and you need money for auto repairs, you could be entitled to file a claim against the other driver.
Ultimately, it is up to each driver to decide what type of auto insurance coverage is most appropriate for them. Before making a decision, you should be sure to carefully examine the cost of each type of insurance coverage as well as what you might be on the line for in the event of an accident.
What Should I Do if My Medical Bills Are Out of Control?
Whether you have PIP insurance coverage or have opted out of Kentucky’s no-fault insurance system, you deserve to be treated with care and dignity after a serious accident. At the Law Office of Todd W. Burris, we do not rest until our clients have secured the best possible compensation for their damages. The insurance company’s tricks and tactics to unnecessarily reduce or delay your compensation won’t work on us.
Contact us to schedule a free consultation to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer.