What to do After a Car Accident That’s Not Your Fault

Automobile Accident Lawyer

The first thing is your safety. Try to get yourself and others to a safe place out of traffic if possible. If there are any life-saving steps that need to take place for anyone, do so as needed. Next someone needs to call 911 for medical help if anyone is hurt.

What to do After a Car Accident

The police will arrive and decide what emergency procedures and personnel are needed. The officers will also view the scene and determine how the accident happened and decide who is probably at fault. They will draw up an accident report. If necessary an accident reconstruction investigation may be required at a later time with traffic rerouted around the accident scene while the reconstruction of the circumstances takes place.

It is important not to admit guilt. There may have been a head injury or concussion which can cause confusion. The situation may be complicated requiring a careful analysis regarding the true person at fault. It is important to exchange information with the other person in the accident. The police will likely want that information and will assist with exchanging it between the parties. 

Once insurance information is known a person should contact their insurance about the situation as well as contacting the other driver’s insurance. If the other driver DOES NOT have insurance a person will want to inform their own insurance company this fact. 

No-Fault States

Here is a list of no-fault states:

  •       Florida
  •       Hawaii
  •       Kansas
  •       Kentucky
  •       Massachusetts
  •       Michigan
  •       Minnesota
  •       New Jersey
  •       New York
  •       North Dakota
  •       Pennsylvania
  •       Utah

No fault states require a person’s own personal injury protection insurance to cover their the accident up to a certain amount of money regardless of who was at fault in the accident. A person may step out of the no-fault scenario of the accident was sufficiently serious. Factors such as a broken bone, disfigurement and high enough medical bills allow a person to sue the at-fault driver in some states. 

At-Fault States

The person or person’s insurance company in ‘fault’ states is responsible for damages. Each driver’s insurance is responsible according to the degree of fault of their insured driver. The responsibility includes property, injury, lost wages and pain and suffering monetary damages. 

Depending on the state different rules apply to the percentage a person is allowed to recover. For instance, Texas drivers are only allowed to recover if they are not 51 percent or more at fault. If a party is 50 percent at fault or less they can recover damages. Texas, for instance,  is a ‘modified comparative negligence’ state. 

Accident in Rental Car

Most insurance companies offer car rental insurance. But a person needs to check and make sure that they included it with their policy. It is not very expensive and costs about the same as the cost of a rental car for a day.  If an accident occurs the same basics apply. Make sure everyone is safe and call 911 for an ambulance if there are injuries.  Exchange information with the other party. Give each other names, addresses, insurance information and drivers license numbers.  Call your car rental company by the number in the glove compartment or on the rental agreement. Inform them on what has happened and get instruction on how to proceed. Then call your insurance company if you are using them to insure your rental vehicle.  The car rental companies like for the insured to have $500 or less as a deductible. If that is not the case they may require the driver to purchase additional insurance. Let your insurance company know if this is the case.It is important to read the car insurance policies to see if the driver is required to pay any deductible regardless who is at fault.   If you purchased ‘Loss Damage Waiver’ and you cause damage to the rental vehicle, you are protected against being held accountable for ‘loss of use’ fees for the time the rental car is being repaired. A credit card may cover this as well. It will not cover risky or reckless behavior such as off-roading.  

What to do When Someone Hits Your Parked Car

The first thing you want to do is check for witnesses or security cameras. In some states a person is required to leave their information. Many people will obviously not leave their information. In Texas it is a crime to leave the scene of an accident without leaving information.

The next thing to do is call the police. Some will not come to the scene for minor damage. They may require you to fill out an accident report form and drop it off at the police station with photos. If they run across any leads then they might file a case. You will want to take pictures and make a copy of the form in order to forward to the your insurance company.

If you do not find out who damaged the vehicle you will most likely need to pay your deductible out of pocket and have a shop fix the repair. 

It is risky to let a person talk you into not informing your insurance company after an accident. The person may be lying or change their mind to not paying you for the accident. 

How to File an Insurance Claim

Call your insurance company and inquire about any time limits to file an insurance claim. Once you begin the process of explaining your situation to your insurance company, the insurance company will assign you a claims adjuster who will evaluate your claim. 

An adjuster will determine how much the insurance company will spend on repairs. If you have questions or disagree you can ask for a report. The report should have an explanation of how the damage assessment was determined. You will then find a repair shop who will begin repairs. 

If the car is considered a total loss the claim specialist will not allow the vehicle to be repaired. A total loss would mean that a repair would cost more than the vehicle’s value. 

A total loss is where you will want to have GAP insurance if you owe more than the car is worth. That means that insurance will only pay you what the car is worth and you will owe the finance company the amount over the insurance check amount. 

It may be helpful to know that filing an at fault claim is sometimes a bad idea. You are likely to see a rate increase over several years. This can amount to paying more than the actual accident cost and a higher rate from now on. 

The insurance company will probably have repair shops that they recommend. You are not required to use them but they will likely have better guarantees. If you choose not to go to one of those listed, you may have to get more than one estimate.  This is to prove to the insurance company that they are not paying inflated rates for the particular automotive work. 

How Much Does Insurance go up After an Accident?

If the accident is not your fault than insurance rates should not change.

If a driver is at fault he or she can expect a 22 to 76 percent increase in premiums. This is dependent on which state the driver is insured in. The stricter the state regulations the higher the premiums will increase.

Can I Fix My Own car With Insurance Money?

The vehicle has a lien you will probably be required to take it to an approved shop. The lienholder will want guaranteed workmanship in case the loan payer defaults. The care may be repossessed and need to be resold. The vehicle will need to be taken to a shop and repaired and the insurance company will pay the repair shop directly. 

If the check is made out to you and the lienholder do not commit forgery by signing the lienholders name in an attempt to cash out the check. 

When To Get An Attorney For a Car Accident

If you are injured in an accident, it is best to immediately seek legal advice. What happens immediately after an accident can affect the outcome in a major way. 

An attorney will want you to seek medical attention to document all injuries that may have been the result of the accident. The attorney will want to order the accident  report.

If the attorney discovers that the person calling is at fault the attorney will most likely not take the case. The at-fault driver’s insurance company will most likely be defending that driver. 

The driver seeking legal counsel will be evaluated for injuries and instructed to go to treatment. The property and bodily injury damages will be summarized and compiled into a report to be sent to the insurance adjuster. Included in the report will be the medical bills. The treatments will need to completed in order to thoroughly evaluate the case value. 

If the case approaches the statute of limitations time limit the attorney may need to file a lawsuit in order to preserve the case. If the statute of limitations expires, the insurance company will offer $0 to settle the case. 

What is the Average Car Accident Settlement time?

Assuming a person has a lawyer for this question, the average time will be several months. It is more likely to settle after the discovery period is over and depositions are over with. If the liability is clear, the case will most likely be ready to settle. If the offer is too low, then a lawsuit is filed and the case will proceed to trial. This can drag a case out 2 to 3 years until trial. This is assuming a suitable offer is not made prior to trial and the client agrees to it.

Medical bills and liens need to be paid and settled before the driver can collect the settlement. 

Call or visit http://erictorberson.com to get the help you need with your case. 

Author: Eric Torberson

Eric Torberson is a licensed attorney in Texas as well as licensed in the federal courts of the southern and western districts of Texas.