Welcome to the Gerstner Law blog! I hope to write regularly about topics that concern Montana consumers. To kick things off, I’m going to start a series on the different types of automobile insurance coverages.
The first type of car insurance that I’m going to discuss is bodily injury liability coverage, which I’ll call liability insurance for short. Liability insurance covers personal injury caused by the insured’s negligence. Put differently, if somebody owns liability insurance and causes a car accident, the liability coverage will pay for the damages suffered by anybody else involved in the crash.
Liability insurance only applies up to the policy limits. Limits are issued on a per person/per occurrence basis. For example, if somebody has $50,000 per person/$100,000 per occurrence liability limits, the insurance company with only cover damages up to $50,000 per person injured in the crash, and $100,000 total per crash, no matter how many people are injured. If somebody sustains injuries beyond the crasher’s liability limits, the injured party’s next recourse would be to go after the crasher’s personal assets (unless the injured party has underinsured motorist coverage, which will be the discussed in a later post). Hopefully everybody reading this has liability insurance – Montana law requires every vehicle to be covered by liability limits of least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per occurrence.
Let’s see how all this works in the following scenario. Imagine Dangerous Dave has liability insurance with limits of $100,000 per person/$300,000 per occurrence. While whipping down the Beartooth Highway in his sportscar, Dave takes a turn too sharply and crashes head on into a truck carrying Innocent Ivan, Unlucky Ursula, and Luckless Larry. Everybody involved in the auto accident suffers serious injuries and gets transported to the hospital. In addition to significant medical bills, Ivan, Ursula, and Larry miss a lot of work and generally have a miserable next few months. All three of the crash victims can recover from Dangerous Dave’s liability insurance for their past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering up to $100,000 each. If any of them suffer damages beyond Dave’s policy limits and there’s no other applicable car insurance, then the crash victims can look to recover against Dave’s personal assets.
I hope you find this primer on bodily injury liability coverage helpful. If you’re ever in a car accident, please contact Gerstner Law. We have experience with personal injury cases, and you don’t have to pay your attorney fees and costs out of your pocket. We handle accident cases on a contingent fee basis, which means that your attorney fees come out of whatever money we recover for you. Keep an eye out for our next post!