If you were in a car crash due to no fault of your own, but instead of another driver’s actions- such as texting while driving, driving recklessly, or speeding- then you are likely wondering what you should do next.
While you heal from your injuries, you may be wondering how you can obtain compensation for your damages. Specifically, if you are not at fault, should you file a claim? If so, should you act by calling your insurance company if you are not at fault?
If you have been injured and have suffered damages from the accident, then financial compensation may make you whole or put you in the position you were in before the accident occurred. In this case, you may benefit from filing an insurance claim, even if it is with your own insurance company.
However, before contacting your insurance company regarding a claim for a no-fault accident, think about:
Being injured as the result of an accident can be painful and stressful. Common economic and non-economic damages from a car accident may include:
Economic damages may include:
- Medical expenses such as health care treatment related to the accident and future procedures and treatments such as surgery or ongoing physical therapy treatment
- Loss of income you forfeited due to your injuries, including wages you lost out on in the future
- Damage to your property, such as the vehicle involved in the accident that requires repair or a replacement
Non-economic damages may include:
- Decreased quality of life due to the accident, such as no longer having the ability to enjoy activities you once did before the accident occurred, like driving or playing your favorite sport
- Loss of support from a family member who lost their life in the accident. This can include no longer having the emotional connection and relationship you had before they passed away.
- Emotional distress, such as post-traumatic stress disorder
The results of another driver’s negligent actions, such as driving while impaired or recklessly speeding, can lead to devastating injuries. For example, the impact of a car accident can cause an injury to your neck, back, limbs, and head. In most severe cases, the injury can progress into something far worse or be especially life-threatening.
For example, a traumatic brain injury may initially appear to be a headache but can become fatal. For this reason, a medical professional should assess, treat, and continuously monitor a mild headache or concussion as the symptoms can progress into something far worse.
In addition to physical injuries, you may develop emotional trauma such as a fear of driving or a diminished quality of life. Financially, you may be suffering from loss of wages or from expending money on necessary medical expenses that resulted from accident injuries.
If you are not at fault for the accident, then your insurance may cover and compensate you for the damages you have suffered. However, to determine whether your insurance company will cover your no-fault accident damages, you must understand your state’s laws.
State-specific Auto Insurance Laws
State auto insurance laws govern car accident liability coverage concerning injuries and medical bills. You must know whether your state is among the 12 no-fault insurance states, which will still assign blame, but they will determine who pays for a certain cost.
The following are no-fault insurance states:
- New York
- North Dakota
- New Jersey
- Puerto Rico (as a commonwealth of the U.S.) and Washington, D.C., also have no-fault laws
Monitor changes in your respective state if it repeals or changes the no-fault insurance system, which can have financial implications on insurance policyholders and affect whether they will cover your damages in no-fault accidents.
In a no-fault state, the laws will require you to carry additional or supplemental coverage known as personal injury protection (PIP). The PIP is in addition to bodily injury and property damage liability. If your state is not on the no-fault state list, then you should check whether your state’s no-fault or PIP insurance is available as an option for you.
Fault states that require PIP insurance include:
In fault states such as Texas, your policy will automatically include PIP insurance unless you opt out in writing. On the other hand, if you have a no-fault policy, you will need to submit your claim to your own insurance company instead of the other driver’s insurer.
In fault states that do not require auto insurance policyholders to carry PIP insurance, you might add optional PIP coverage to your insurance policy.
Even if PIP is optional, it is still worthwhile to weigh the benefits of having additional coverage to kick in and cover unexpected and costly expenses to your health associated with an unpredictable car accident.
Fault states that do not require PIP include:
- West Virginia
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- New Hampshire
If you see your state listed above, then it is vital to understand the coverage thresholds for your specific state, as these can vary greatly. Knowing the coverage threshold amount is critical to assessing whether they are sufficient to cover your damages and considering whether you should purchase additional coverage if needed.
A major benefit of PIP insurance is that you can file a claim for medical expenses or other costs resulting from a car accident regardless of who was at fault.
Generally, PIP covers health services related to the accident, including, but not limited to:
- Doctor and hospital visits
- Chiropractic and physical therapy services
- Medical equipment such as crutches and wheelchairs
- Dental services
- Surgery and X-rays
It is critical to know your PIP insurance policy so you understand how expansive this coverage is, as some states cover lost wages, among other expenses.
For example, PIP in Texas covers the following:
- Household services
- Loss of income
- Childcare expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Survivors’ loss benefits
Filing an Insurance Claim
If you have no-fault insurance, you will need help reaching your insurance company to start a claim. An attorney familiar with the specific details of your case will know how to navigate a personal injury claim due to a car accident that was not your fault.
For example, if you have suffered pain and suffering after an accident, an attorney will know that generally, no-fault insurance does not cover damages for pain and suffering. Specifically, the attorney can provide sufficient detail and submit the proper documentation.
In most cases, you will need to prove liability; however, if you are in a no-fault auto insurance state, then this requirement to prove the fault is alleviated. As a result, you will receive your claim quicker.
After you file the insurance claim, then the insurance company processes the claim. In the best of cases, the claim is successfully paid out to you to cover your expenses if they are within your policy coverage limits.
Dealing with insurance companies can be particularly overwhelming, especially in the aftermath of a car accident. Before engaging with insurance companies, be sure to schedule a consultation with an experienced car accident attorney so they can inform you of your rights and assist you with the next steps.
Value of Legal Representation
The compensation process after a car accident can be both stressful and confusing. For example, the insurance company may take their time when handling your claim by not communicating with you or returning your calls. Perhaps the insurance company makes the claims process very difficult and challenging for you to navigate.
The good news is that you can turn to an experienced personal injury attorney for help. Such attorneys have the necessary experience to represent your legal interests when filing a claim with your auto insurance company. If you were at least partially responsible or fully at fault for a car accident, an attorney experienced in personal injury cases and familiar with how insurance companies work possesses the skills and strategy to advocate on your behalf effectively.
Some of the ways an experienced personal injury attorney can help you navigate insurance concerns include:
#1. Understanding your Auto Insurance Policy
An attorney can best assist you with understanding the specific terms of your auto insurance policy and interpreting how the specific provisions impact your case based on the specific circumstances. For example, a personal injury attorney can help you understand the limits of your no-fault insurance coverage depending on your state-specific policy. For example, in New York, PIP coverage is limited to $50,000 per person, and coverage for lost wages is at 80 percent of income, which the state law caps at $2,000 a month.
A step that you can take to get started is to review your insurance policy and, if applicable, the consumer bill of rights, which some states, such as Texas, must provide you. Your bill of rights includes important deadlines, including when to submit a claim, and outlines both your and the insurer’s responsibilities.
#2. Understand your Insurance Options
An attorney can best advise you, according to the specific circumstances of your accident, as to whether you should seek supplemental coverage such as collision coverage.
#3. Navigate Insurance Claim Disagreements
If your auto insurance company disagrees with your assessment, or if you are dissatisfied with the insurance company’s assessment, an experienced personal injury attorney can best advise you of your legal rights, navigate the claims process, and advocate for you.
Most states assess liability and the proof you are submitting. An attorney can help you prepare the extensive paperwork required in this process to ensure accurate, organized, and concise information is properly and timely submitted.
#4. Contact the Insurance Company Directly
A frustrating aspect of insurance companies is the time it can take to receive compensation or obtain reimbursement. This can be particularly stressful if you suffer from a loss of income and have expended money on medical needs.
A personal injury attorney with experience communicating with insurance companies can help you find out more information and help you understand what to anticipate in the auto insurance claims process.
#5. Personal Injury Lawsuit
Even if you are not at fault, the other driver may challenge your position and argue that they were not at fault. An experienced personal injury attorney can assist you if the other driver takes this angle to avoid liability.
Additionally, if you are in a state that follows no-fault auto insurance laws, an attorney can guide you concerning your legal options. For example, if you have serious injuries, no-fault states may generally be allowed where damages fall within specific limits.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney for Insurance Claim Concerns
If you or a loved one have sustained an injury or injuries in a car accident because of no fault of your own, you need to contact an experienced personal injury attorney by your side to help with your insurance claim. They can help alleviate the added stress of an injury and draw on their experience and knowledge to help you navigate the complex legal aspects of filing an insurance claim on your behalf.
You can get started today by scheduling a consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney where you can:
- Learn more about their experience
- Share the specifics of your car accident
- Obtain insights on your legal options with your insurance company
- Learn how an attorney can best represent your legal needs
Having legal representation on your side is a critical way to ensure that you effectively advocate and pursue legal options that will hold drivers accountable for their negligent actions and help you obtain the compensation you deserve.