Christin Walker, a resident of Burlington, New Jersey, is a responsible driver. She showed it by driving a school bus full of noisy and often rambunctious children for 22 years on country roads and city streets.
Even good drivers, though, can cause serious accidents. A hit-and-run driver who, according to the police report, sped through a red light wrecked and totaled her secondhand 2006 Honda Civic just over a week after she bought it. Walker considers herself fortunate that she was not injured. A little less than a month later, the same driver was involved in another accident that resulted in the death of a pedestrian.
She hasn’t received compensation from any insurance company, she doesn’t have a car, and she still owes money to the Honda that is now rusting in a recycling center. She’s so angry that she’s going to sue the driver of the automobile that hit her.
Walker will not be alone if she files an insurance claim. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, around 6 million collisions are reported by police in the United States each year. Every year, car accidents hurt or kill more than three million people, which leads to a lot of lawsuits and insurance claims.
Making a Claim Against Someone Else’s Insurance
In the most basic case, if someone else hits you, you’ll file a claim against their liability insurance. This is referred to as a “third-party claim,” since you are the third party in the eyes of the other driver and their insurance company.
The claim will be processed by the other person’s insurer, but don’t expect a rapid settlement.
Fixing the Problem with Your Own Insurance
We could all feel like insurance experts if only insurance claims were simple. And it’s natural to believe that if someone else causes an accident, they should be held accountable. However, even if someone else slams into you, you may need to use your own auto insurance in some instances. Here’s how it could go down.
No-fault states are the first situation
Injury claims are always filed on your own insurance first in states with no-fault insurance legislation. Personal injury protection (PIP insurance) is required in certain states for this purpose. You can only sue another motorist if you meet certain requirements, which vary by state. In many circumstances, major damage or death must occur before you can sue someone else for an automobile accident in a no-fault state. (In most cases, property damage claims can still be filed against the other party’s liability insurance.)
PIP and a related policy called medical payments (MedPay) are frequently available in states without no-fault laws. You and your passengers can use these to file lawsuits if you or they get hurt.
A driver who is underinsured
What if the motorist doesn’t have enough insurance to pay for the injuries caused by the accident? You can still sue them for the balance, but if they have no assets, it might not be worth it. If you have it, you could use your own underinsured motorist coverage. If the other driver does not have enough insurance, it may be able to cover medical expenses.
Ignoring the problem
Instead of dealing with the other person’s insurance company, you could choose to use your own insurance for car damage. You can utilise collision insurance to cover car damage caused by someone else if you have it.
The disadvantage is that your insurance payment will be lowered by the amount of your collision deductible. If your insurance company goes after the other person’s insurance company for payment, you may be able to get your deductible money back in the future.
You could use your rental reimbursement coverage for a rental while your vehicle is being repaired for a collision claim if you have it.
Being unable to repay a car loan
Whether you file a liability claim against the other driver or use your own collision insurance, if the accident destroyed your car, the insurance company should pay you the value of the car.
However, this does not imply that the issue has been resolved. In some situations, you may owe more on a car loan or lease than the automobile is worth. This can happen if you financed the majority of the car’s purchase or if you have a vehicle that has rapidly depreciated in value. Gap insurance can cover the difference between the insurance payment and the loan/lease debt in any circumstance.
You could also file a lawsuit
Another option is to engage a lawyer and file a lawsuit against the other driver.
You may need to assist in establishing that the other party was truly at fault, particularly if they begin pointing fingers at you. A police report, pictures from the site, and the contact information for any witnesses will all help prove your innocence.
You could pursue the other motorist to small claims court if the expected payout for a car accident is tiny—around $3,000—and you have a viable case.
While the laws vary by state, most local governments operate some form of small claims court. Filing fees are fairly inexpensive, and hearings are normally scheduled within a month or two. You also have the right to call witnesses, such as the other motorist, the claims adjuster for the insurance company, and anybody else who may have been involved in the collision. Have all of your information on hand, as well as certified repair pricing quotes.
The benefit of this procedure is that it requires the opposing party’s insurance company to send a lawyer and any witnesses necessary to support its case—or to contest the lawsuit’s amount—to court. This could lead to negotiations.
When you’re at the scene of an accident, it’s important to be calm.
Protecting your right to sue someone else begins at the accident scene. An accident checklist might assist you in gathering the necessary information.
Make sure you’re safe and sound
If you’re in a car accident, the first thing you should do is take a step back, catch your breath, and make sure you and your passengers aren’t hurt. Even in a minor collision, soft tissue injuries are a risk, and injuries raise the stakes for an insurance claim.
Even if no one is hurt, the collision will be distressing for both (or all) the people involved. In the inevitable exchange of driver information, try to keep your road rage (and theirs) to a minimum. If at all feasible, pull over to a safe location. If you don’t have to, don’t stand on a crowded or high-speed road. Stay inside the car if possible, dial 911, and wait for the cops.
If the other driver or drivers are reasonable, make certain they have all the information they need to submit a claim, as well as that you have everything you need. Your insurance information from your insurance ID card is all that is required by someone else. Many insurance companies include a car accident checklist in their mobile apps, or you may print one and store it in your glove compartment.
Your cell phone is the most important piece of equipment following a car accident. Take photographs of:
- Your car, as well as the other vehicles involved, may be damaged.
- Plates de permis
- Any other contributing circumstances, such as neighboring crossroads and traffic signs, such as road conditions such as ice, rain, or snow,
- Insurance ID cards of other drivers
- Make a list of any witnesses names and phone numbers.
- The photographs should be date-stamped and time-stamped on your phone.
- Obtain information about police officers.
Verify the name and badge number of the responding police officer, which could be written illegibly on whatever paper you get. As soon as the police report is submitted, get a copy and examine it for accuracy.
Make contact with your insurance provider
Contact your insurer as soon as possible, regardless of who was at fault. Many insurers allow you to file claims using their mobile apps, so the technology could help you here as well.
Loretta Worters, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute, an industry association, says, “Make sure you submit the claim within your insurer’s time limit.” “Ask your insurer if your policy has a time limit for submitting bills, resolving claims disputes, and submitting additional information.” Deadlines for filing vehicle damage claims are typically 30 days, so ask your insurer if your policy has a time limit for submitting bills, resolving claims disputes, and submitting additional information.”
Understanding the Different Types of Car Insurance and How to File a Claim
It’s a good idea to read your auto insurance policy after a car accident to be sure you’re covered. Your insurance agent may have previously informed you of what you’re entitled to—and what you’re not—but double-check. Having a trustworthy insurer with a solid reputation will pay dividends in this situation.
The same basic coverage types are offered by all vehicle insurance companies. The ones that are mandated vary by state, while the rest are optional—and some of the optional coverage types are a good investment.
Insurance against liability
For all vehicles, liability insurance is the most basic coverage. You must have this in case you accidentally strike someone, a car, or even a garden gnome in someone’s yard. Liability insurance covers a victim’s claims for medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering, among other things.
Liability coverage is required in almost every state, but the amounts vary. In California, for example, the minimum amount of injury coverage for one individual in an accident is mere $15,000. Florida’s vehicle insurance rules are considerably more lenient, requiring only $10,000 in injury coverage for one person in the event of an accident. With today’s medical costs and litigious environment, that coverage may be woefully inadequate.
You could be sued for more than your auto insurance policy limits. A large quantity of auto insurance is a means to effectively safeguard yourself and your valuables from people with assets and funds.
If you’re sued for something covered by your policy, such as a car accident, liability insurance also covers your legal defense.
If you want to protect assets worth more than $500,000, you might want to buy an umbrella insurance policy.
Collision insurance is optional unless your auto loan or lease stipulates it. This insurance covers damage to your car if you collide with an object such as a pole or another vehicle. According to the Insurance Information Institute, almost 75% of drivers with auto insurance have collision coverage.
Collision insurance is frequently sold in conjunction with comprehensive coverage, so plan to purchase both. Unless it’s necessary for a car loan or lease, comprehensive coverage is also an option. It covers theft, fire, hail, vandalism, and other miscellaneous risks like colliding with a deer or driving through water that hides an overflowing creek.
Laws governing no-fault vehicle insurance
In some areas, no-fault auto insurance regulations eliminate the requirement to determine who is at fault in order to get an insurance payout for minor injury claims. Instead of filing a lawsuit, each party is compensated by its own insurer. These claims are covered under personal injury protection.