What Happens When You Get in a Car Accident With Insurance?
If you have been involved in a car accident, there are two things to be thankful for. The first is that you have escaped alive and hopefully with as little injury as possible. The second thing to be thankful for is having insurance.
If you’ve been in an accident, first check to make sure you and your passengers are all okay and don’t require immediate medical attention. If immediate medical care is needed, call 911 right away. Then, check on the driver of the other car or cars involved in the accident. From there, it is your responsibility to exchange insurance information with any other drivers.
Does my insurance cover my repairs?
While your insurance will certainly cover car repairs up to a certain extent, be mindful of the cost of your deductibles. If you’ve got a scratch along the side of the car and the paint job will be $600 but you have a $500 deductible in your policy, then this might not be a fix worth making.
Next, you need to be aware of what is going to happen regarding your and the other driver’s insurance if damage is more severe. This will depend on where you live.
Are you in a “no-fault” or “fault” state?
This distinction is very important because it determines who is getting paid by which insurance company. In a no-fault state, each individual is covered for relatively small claims by their own insurance company, no matter who is completely or even partially at fault for the accident.
In some no-fault states you can not sue the driver at fault, whereas in others you can sue the driver who caused the accident, but only for damages that exceed a certain amount. This is usually in the area of $25,000 or more. This would involve a case where your car is totalled, and/or you suffered fairly serious injuries that racked up substantial medical bills. These steep medical bills could include an ambulance ride, CT scans or MRIs, surgery, or physical therapy.
In some no-fault states you can not sue the driver at fault, whereas in others you can sue the driver who caused the accident, but only for damages that exceed a certain amount.
According to car accident lawyer Marc Anidjar, personal injury protection insurance is required by law in Florida, and it will cover your medical care up to your policy’s limits and a portion of your lost wages. Currently, the following states have partial or total no-fault laws:
- North Dakota
- New York
- New Jersey
Most states fall under the category of fault policy, which follows a legal style known as tort law. This can be boiled down to: the insurance company of whoever is more at fault pays more or all of the cost in damages.
If you as a driver are mainly or totally responsible for causing a collision with another car, your insurance company will have to pay the cost of the damage and injuries to both you and the car you struck. If damages exceed your insurance policy, then you are personally liable in most states that practice this policy.
If you aren’t sure which policy your state follows, contacting an attorney and asking them to represent you in dealing with the insurance company as well as helping you determine whether you want to take the case to court will be very useful. Some attorneys will not even charge you a fee for an initial consultation, so it is always worth your while to ask.
I want to sue for damages. Do I need a lawyer?
While you can file a suit on your own, known as pro se, in the interest of time, ease, and likelihood of success, you are best off hiring an experienced attorney. Although attorneys do cost money, some much more than others, there is a litany of very complex rules, forms, filing deadlines, and motions that need to be made to carry a lawsuit through.
Additionally, judges have every right to throw a lawsuit out if they deem it to be excessive or frivolous. Do yourself a favor, and ask for legal advice from a licensed attorney.