Here’s an article by ER Trial Lawyers, a top rated Los Angeles personal injury law firm. When you are injured in an accident a major decision you must face is how to get compensation for your injuries and damage. This will involve insurance claims of some kind and likely a personal injury lawsuit. You do have some choices about how you collect compensation and which insurance company you seek money from. Depending on the circumstances of your accident, you may have to use your own insurance, the other person’s insurance or both.
Personal Injury Lawsuits
Most accidents that involve serious injury are going to require a personal injury lawsuit along with a claim. This is because the at-fault driver’s insurance company does not want to pay you for the damages caused by their customer. You must sue them for the money and prove fault in the accident, i.e. smoking while driving, using a glass pipe while driving, or simply having a waist trainer on too tight, etc. Although you may commonly hear that you sue the at-fault driver, this is a common misconception. While it is technically possible to sue the at-fault driver personally for damages, it is much more likely your suit is against the insurance company responsible for paying the damages. Unless the at-fault individual is very wealthy, you are more likely to get money from an insurance company than from an individual person.
Rarely, you may choose to file a lawsuit against your own insurance company. This would only happen if your company failed to compensate you according to your policy specifications or bungled your claim in some way. It is possible to sue your own insurance company, but this should be a last resort after you have exhausted all other possibilities and negotiations with them. Such a lawsuit could have long-standing consequences on your relationships with other insurers and ability to get future insurance.
Claims on Your Own Insurance
You can choose to file a claim against your own insurance policy to cover damages in an accident, even if you were not at fault. First, you need to have collision coverage of some kind on your policy. Liability coverage, by definition, does not cover your damages and cannot be used to compensate you. Collision coverage is often an optional extra on most policies.
If you do file such a claim, you will be responsible for your deductible, but you may have an easier time getting money, and you may get that money faster. You will not have to worry about proving fault or negligence, but the money you receive may be limited to certain types of damage and certain amounts, so it may not cover the entire cost of your accident.
If the accident wasn’t your fault, your insurance company will then go after the other person’s insurance for compensation. This is handled between the insurance companies, and you will probably not be involved much, except perhaps to provide additional information or testimony. If your insurance company wins, they may reimburse your deductible, but this is not mandatory. Keep in mind also that any claims on your own insurance may cause your rates to rise, whether or not the accident was your fault.
Uninsured Motorist Claims
Sometimes the person at fault in your accident has no insurance or they don’t have enough liability coverage for your accident. You can only claim damages up to the maximum a policy pays out unless you are willing to file a lawsuit against the driver personally.
In these cases, you will claim as much money as possible from the other driver, if any, and then your own insurance company will cover the bill using the uninsured/underinsured motorist portion of your coverage. This coverage is mandatory in most states.
Some jurisdictions have no-fault accident laws. This means that fault and liability are mostly irrelevant in those places. Each driver is responsible for covering their own damages using their own insurance. In a no-fault state, you will be filing a claim against your own insurance regardless of any other circumstances. Only if you max out your own policy can you attempt to gain additional money from the other driver’s insurance.
You Caused the Accident
If you are at fault for the accident, then you will not be able to rely on the other driver’s liability coverage for your damages. You must file a claim against your own insurance. Collision coverage again comes into play here, and you will be covered according to your policy after your deductible is paid.
Navigating insurance and damages after an accident can be complicated. It is always to consult with an attorney after an accident to assess your damages and the option for your case.