Recently, some car insurance companies have been mentioning “split limit” coverage in their TV ads. This is nothing new.
Split limits refer to separate liability limits for each person injured in an accident, each occurrence, and for property damage caused in that accident. Property damage coverage is just that, the amount of coverage you have for property damage you may cause. If your property damage isn’t sufficient you may be left owing the other diver money.
The liability limits for bodily injury are much more problematic. A typical insurance policy provides 100/300 coverage, but it can be lower or higher. This means that you have coverage up to $100,000 per person injured, and $300,000 for all people injured in the occurrence.
This may sound like a lot of coverage, but it is relatively easy to incur medical bills for initial treatment far in excess of $100,000 for a serious injury. If you are liable for injuring someone, and have $100,000 per person coverage, any amount more than that awarded by a jury would be your responsibility to pay.
The “per occurrence” limit is just that, the amount of coverage your insurance company provides to compensate all people who are injured in an occurrence. So if you injure one person in a car accident, and fair compensation to her would be $100,000, this coverage would be sufficient. If there are 3 people injured, each one would have available compensation of $100,000 (so $300,000 total). The problem is if there are more than 3 injured, there is only $300,000 available to pay them all. If fair compensation to each one is $100,000, you may be left without complete coverage and be responsible for any additional amounts.
If you are the one hurt, you have no control over how much coverage the other driver has to compensate you. But if the other driver has insufficient coverage, you can look to your own “Underinsured Motorist” coverage to make up the difference. Most insurance policies provide the same amount of underinsured (UIM) coverage as you have in liability coverage. So if your coverage is 100/300, you’d have up to $100,000 to compensate you if the other driver has less than that.
But if your injuries are truly significant, $100,000 may not even pay your medical bills. That’s why we encourage people to buy as much coverage as they can afford, and to actually talk to an insurance company agent to get the proper amount of coverage for your particular needs. You need this insurance to cover you in a worst case scenario situation. Additionally, you’d be surprised how inexpensive this extra coverage can be.
Liability limits in policies come in many sizes, for instance 25/50, 50/100, 100/300, 250/500 and even higher. You want to make sure that you carry enough so if you are injured, you’ll be covered. If you can’t work for 6 months, how much would you need to make to pay your bills? These are all issues you should think about when buying the proper amount of coverage for you and your family.
And remember, if you’ve been seriously injured in a car accident, call MacCloskeyKesler & Associates at 815-965-2000. We can explain everything to you. Put our many years of experience to work for you.
Recently, some car insurance companies have been mentioning “split limit” coverage in their TV ads. This is nothing new.
With all the recent attention to gun violence in our country, we thought it might be helpful to point out that many Homeowners’ Insurance Policies cover injuries caused by accidental shootings on your property. The shooting must be attributed to negligence of the home owner.
This negligence can take many forms, and really is only limited by the imagination of your attorney. Was the gun left loaded and where children could easily find it? Were there no trigger guards or were the guns not kept in a safe? Was a member of the family showing it to a friend when it discharged?
We prosecuted a case like that about 25 years ago, and the case went to trial. The defense wanted to hint to the jury that it was some kind of dope deal gone bad, resulting in the home owner’s son shooting my client. There was no evidence of drugs being present, and we were able to prove that it was just two teenagers playing with a loaded gun. The defendant home owner’s son was showing the gun to our client and didn’t know how to handle the gun and didn’t realize it was loaded until it went off. We were able to our client a very nice jury verdict based on that negligence.
Every winter here in Northern Illinois brings with it the risk of slipping and falling due to snow and ice. At MacCloskeyKesler & Associates, we always get questions this time of year whether someone’s fall is compensable under Illinois law. The easy answer is “it depends”.
Many law firms won’t even talk to people who have fallen on snow or ice. The reason for this is because Illinois juries can apportion the fault between the property owner and the one who fell. This is called “comparative negligence.” If the negligence of the person who fell exceeds 50% they are legally entitled to nothing in compensation. Even under the best of circumstances, juries tend to apportion some fault to the one who fell. So some law firms won’t take fall down cases at all because of the risk of not being able to obtain a recovery.
So how can someone qualify for a recovery? Illinois draws a distinction between natural accumulations of snow or ice and unnatural accumulations. If the Court deems the accumulation to be natural, there is no duty for the property owner to remove it, warn you about it, or really do anything about it. So without more, there is no requirement to even put salt out to remedy ice accumulations. In a general sense, then, without a duty on behalf of the property owner there is very little chance of recovery.
If, however, the accumulation is unnatural, then the property owner must do something to warn you about it or take steps to ameliorate the condition. If they don’t, chances are pretty good you’ll be able to get compensation for your injuries (but see the discussion above about apportionment of fault).
How do we know if an accumulation is unnatural? Well, generally speaking, unnatural accumulations are those that have been caused by the property owner, or made more dangerous by them. If an owner has a parking lot, and plows his snow and piles it on top of a hill, the runoff that turns to ice at the bottom of the hill is an unnatural accumulation. If the owner has gutters and downspouts from their roof and places the downspout on a sidewalk, the ice caused when that runoff freezes on the sidewalk is also unnatural. These are instances when the ice was caused to be formed by the owner. Those are the clearest form of unnatural accumulations. There can be others, of course, but it will depend on the particular facts of the incident.
Winter is a time when we in Northern Illinois must be very careful getting around as snow and ice can be very dangerous and falls can cause serious injuries. If you have been injured in a fall on ice, give us a call to find out what your rights are. We have had good success with cases involving falls due to snow and ice. Call us for a free consultation at 815-965-2000. MacCloskeyKesler and Associates. Put our personal experience to work for you.
A common question we get all the time is “how long will it take to settle my case?” The easy answer is that it depends on how long you require medical treatment.
Illinois law provides that when you are injured by someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to full and fair compensation for the nature and extent of your injury. If you think about that, it becomes clear that a major factor in any compensation is the extent of your injury, which of course includes how long you require medical treatment.
After all, an injury that lasts a month is generally smaller than an injury the lasts a year, which is smaller than an injury that lasts a lifetime. Injuries that result in permanent impairments require the greatest compensation. With permanent injuries, however, we don’t have to wait a lifetime to settle those cases since doctors routinely can make that decision at some point within a reasonable amount of time, and document the permanency of the injury in their records.
We recently settled the car accident case for a client in approximately 13 months of the date of the injury. He treated for his injuries for about 6 months and it took an additional 4 months for the bills to be paid by his health insurance. He asked me why it took so long to settle his case. I explained to him that we actually got the case settled very quickly, since we had to order the records from the medical providers, which can take 60 to 90 days, review them, and then send them to the insurance company. Insurance companies routinely want 30 to 60 days to review them before they call us with an offer. Then the offer is communicated to the client and, with the client’s input, we begin the negotiating process. Once the bills were paid we were able to settle the case within 3 months.
We had a car accident case once where it was clear the other driver was at fault and that our client was severely injured to the point he would need major surgery. There was a $100,000 policy at issue, which we were confident we would be able to get once the client was done with his treatment. For some reason we had a falling out with the client, and he decided to hire a different lawyer, one who had helped a family friend with some family law issues. It took that new lawyer 5 years to get the case resolved, even though the client was done treating within a year and a half. To me, there was no excuse for taking three and a half years to resolve that case.
The moral of the story is, getting a case settled within 3 months from the last medical treatment for full value is very good legal work. It takes a lot to get cases settled like that: experience, aggressiveness, legal knowledge, and a good reputation with the insurance companies against whom we fight these cases. We have that at MacCloskey Kesler and Associates.
To be sure, not all cases can settle this quickly. There may be additional medical records to get, bills to be paid, statements to get, a dispute about liability, or some other issue that comes up. But more often than not we have the know how to get cases settled quickly for top dollar.
So if you’ve been severely injured in a car, truck or motorcycle accident, or injured in some other manner caused by someone else’s negligence, put our personal experience to work for you. Call MacCloskey Kesler and Associates today for a free consultation at 815-965-2000.
Why Should I Turn My Bills Over to My Insurance Company When the Car Accident Was the Other Driver’s Fault?
A question we get asked all the time is why people should turn their medical bills over to their own car and health insurance companies when the accident was the other driver’s fault.
Illinois law provides that the at fault driver is ultimately responsible for paying all forms of compensation to the driver they injure. This includes economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include all expenses and damages incurred because of an accident that is wrongfully caused by someone else. This includes medical bills, reasonable and necessary out of pocket expenses and lost time from work. We will focus on the medical bills here.
When someone is insured and causes an accident, their car insurance company agrees to pay those amounts that the insured person is legally obligated to pay. So why submit your medical bills to your own insurance if the other person’s insurance is obligated to pay?
Because although they are obligated to pay your medical bills, they are not obligated to pay those amounts as you incur them, only at the end of the case. If you have a lengthy recovery period, and your bills are not paid, you could be turned into collection for your past due bills or your medical providers could refuse to treat you until the bill is paid.
And if you wait too long to have your medical bills turned in to your insurance companies, they may be able to refuse to pay them at all. All insurance companies have time periods written in their policies within which you must submit your bills. Some are as short as six months; some car insurance companies will pay accident related bills up to three years; it just varies by the policy. If your bills don’t get paid and they are not submitted within the proper time frame, they become your debts.
One more reason to turn your bills over to your insurance company is that health insurance companies get discounts over the face value of the bill. Sometimes these discounts can be 60% or more of face value. You get credit for these discounts when you pay your insurance company back out of any settlement or verdict amount. Additionally, lawyers have laws that can be used to further reduce the amounts your health insurance must be paid back from any proceeds. So to a very real extent, you can end up saving perhaps thousands of dollars and certainly lots of stress by having your own insurance companies pay your medical bills as they become due.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, or any motor vehicle accident, call us now at 815-965-2000 (or toll free 877-965-2100) for a free consultation. Put our personal experience to work for you.