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What covers injuries after deer strike?


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Question: I swerved to miss a deer; however, I hit the deer, took out a guardrail, and rolled my car down a hillside.  I suffered injuries and totaled the car. What coverage does this fall under?  My insurer said it would pay for the car but not my injuries. Perhaps I just need to know the proper terminology in dealing with the insurance company. I thought bodily injury liability would cover it. I really don't want to sue. 

Answer: I hope you’ve recuperated from your injuries after such a scary accident.

Since you did hit the deer and that set off the rest of the damage to your car, the accident claim should be fall under your comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive covers your vehicle for damages sustained due to an animal strike.

If you had swerved and missed the deer but went on to hit the guardrail and rolled down the hillside, then the accident claim would be filed under your collision coverage instead.  Collision covers when you collide with objects (such as a guardrail) and the upset of your vehicle (such as rolling down the hillside).

If your car insurance company agrees that your car is a total loss, then it should pay you actual cash value for your vehicle, minus your deductible amount.  

Liability coverages can’t help you

As for your injuries, you need to have medical coverage on yourself as part of your car insurance policy for medical expenses to be covered.  Bodily injury liability only covers others that you injured in an auto accident.

Liability coverages, property damage and bodily injury, don’t cover your vehicle or your injuries at all.  States mandate drivers obtain and maintain liability insurance so that if at-fault for damaging others in an auto accident there is a way in which the other party can be compensated.

For instance, if you had hit another vehicle and injured that driver after you hit the deer, then that individual’s injuries would be covered by your bodily injury coverage benefits.  The other party’s car would be covered under your property damage liability coverage.

PIP or MedPay needed

For your car insurance policy to cover your injuries, you need coverage such as medical payments (MedPay) or personal injury protection (PIP).

If you have one of these coverages as part of your policy, then read what your benefits are. If your injuries are covered – likely they are – then you can place your claim.

If you don’t have PIP, MedPay, or another type of medical coverage as part of your policy -- for instance, Pennsylvania has first-party benefits-medical coverage -- then you’d have to look to your own health insurance coverage if you have any.  Some health policies don’t cover injuries sustained in auto accidents, so check that yours does before trying to place a claim.

If you have the right medical coverage as part of your car insurance policy, there is no need to sue.  It should be as easy as making a claim to have at least some of your medical bills paid (some PIP plans have a deductible you must first pay and then pay a certain percentage of your medical expenses). 

As you said, it may be just using the right terminology, saying medical payments instead of bodily injury liability, get your medical bills covered or it may be that you don’t have the right coverage to make a claim. 

If you don’t have medical coverage for yourself as part of your auto policy nor health insurance of your own to file a claim with, then there really isn’t a way to be compensated for your medical expenses.  The state isn’t responsible for the actions of its deer population and you can’t sue your car insurance provider because you were the one that chose not to carry medical coverage for yourself as part of your policy.

If you’d like to see how much it would cost to have medical coverage, then get a car insurance quote to find out the cost. Except in a few states, the coverage is typically inexpensive -- less than $100 a year.

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