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California, like other states throughout the country, requires that drivers purchase liability automobile insurance coverage. Liability coverage protects motorists with whom a driver may be involved in an accident. For instance, when someone with liability coverage causes a crash and damages property or injures people, his or her liability policy will pay for the damage to those who were hit, up to the limit of his or her policy, explains a California personal injury attorney. Liability coverage does not provide protection to the insured for either injury or property damage; additional coverage would need to be purchased by the insured if such protections were desired.

Liability coverage is required because California is a fault state. This means that a party who is at fault for causing an accident is expected to bear the financial burden that results from that accident. Under California tort laws, a car accident victim may sue or otherwise make a claim against the person who caused the accident in order to collect compensation for property loss, medical bills, and lost wages arising from an injury, as well as for pain and suffering and emotional distress related to the injury.

To ensure that the party who caused the accident can pay these damages, California law generally requires that all drivers purchase a policy minimum of $15/$30/$5. This essentially means that they must purchase $15,000 in bodily injury liability coverage that will pay a single person they injure up to $15,000. The $30,000 refers to the total amount of bodily injury coverage purchased (i.e. if more than one person was injured in a single accident, the insurer would pay up to $30,000 total spread among those who were injured). The $5,000 refers to property damage coverage.

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In the state of California, insurance companies and other advocates for tort reform have a long history of lobbying for restrictions on victim’s rights. A recently proposed Senate bill, however, would change a Supreme Court decision to provide broader recovery for plaintiffs, explains a personal injury attorney in the state.

California’s Tort Damages Rule

In the state of California, tort reform efforts have successfully limited the amount that plaintiffs can recover in certain civil actions. For instance, under California law, there is a $250,000 limit on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. Recently, the Supreme Court in Howell v. Hamilton Meats imposed even further limitations on the damages that an injured plaintiff can recover. This time the restrictions affect more than just medical malpractice claims.

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Doctors and insurance companies often have arrangements in which the services are provided at reduced fees in exchange for immediate payment. This is also the case with Medicare. After treating accident victims, many hospitals and doctors would prefer to bill for the full cost of care over the reduced reimbursement offered by Medicare. A doctor or care provider may request to collect payment directly from your accident settlement. However, you should never comply with such a request if you want to protect your settlement, advises a California injury lawyer.

Allowing the cost of care to be deducted from your settlement could compromise the amount of compensation you receive. Without the adjustment that would be made for an insurer, your medical bills may consume a large portion-if not all-of your settlement money.

You have the right to have Medicare pay for your injury-related medical expenses. Although you will have to reimburse Medicare once your case is resolved, rules governing the amount that can be collected will protect your settlement.

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Yes. After an accident, if you pursue a personal injury claim, the other party’s insurance company may request personal information from you, including your Social Security number. Under a recently legislated mandate, explains a California personal injury attorney, you are obligated to supply this information.

In an effort to monitor reimbursement distributed by health insurance companies, state and federal governments have required that Medicare and other health care organizations report certain information, such as the reimbursement rights of parties involved in an accident. Since insurance is often issued to individuals through their Social Security number, this information may be requested during the injury claims process. Moreover, when your case is resolved, you will not receive your settlement check without furnishing this information.

When complying with such requests, be sure that the method in which you choose to communicate personal information is safe and confidential.

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