Figuring out what to do after a car accident can be confusing, especially when it comes to car insurance.
In most states, when an accident occurs, one of the parties involved will be considered the at-fault driver. In other words, one of the drivers will be considered to have caused the accident.
However, there are other states that are known as no-fault states. In these states, medical bills will be covered by each of the driver’s individual personal injury protection coverage (PIP) instead of the at-fault driver’s insurance.
In this article, we take a look at what this all means and how your insurance company will handle your claim.
Firstly, What Is an At-Fault Car Accident?
If you have been identified as the at-fault driver in a car accident, it means that you are to blame for the collision.
In other words, if you either did something, or failed to do something on the road, and this caused an accident in the process, you are seen to be at-fault.
This is also known as an at-fault car accident. Examples of reasons why you may have caused an accident include:
- Not maintaining the car (brakes, for example).
- Driving into the rear of another car.
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI).
- Driving on the wrong side of the road.
- Not giving a pedestrian right of way.
- Texting while driving.
What Is a No-Fault State and Which States Are No-Fault States?
There are 12 no-fault states where drivers must use their own insurance to pay for their injuries after a car crash.
In other words, drivers in these no-fault states cannot rely on the other drivers’ car insurance coverage to pay for their injuries after an accident.
Instead, they are required to carry personal injury protection insurance, which is also known as no-fault insurance.
Personal injury protection insurance is compulsory in these 12 states, along with bodily injury and property damage liability coverage.
Key Point: What Is Personal Injury Protection, Property Damage Liability, and Bodily Injury Liability Insurance?
Personal injury protection (PIP)
Also known as no-fault insurance, personal injury protection covers expenses such as medical bills, lost wages, and funeral costs after a car accident.
Property damage liability (PDL)
This insurance covers any damage to the personal property of the other drivers (not the policyholder).
Bodily injury liability (BIL)
If you are responsible for a car accident, this coverage pays for the medical costs of the people who are injured, with the exception of yourself. This insurance will also cover payment for legal defense if you are sued for damages.
Below are the 12 states that require no-fault insurance. We’ve also included the other minimum insurance coverages that are needed.
|Florida||$10,000 property damage liability (PDL) $10,000 personal injury protection (PIP)|
$20,000/$40,000 bodily injury liability (BIL) $10,000 PDL
$25,000/$50,000 uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM)
$10,000 PDL (outside Michigan)
$1 million PDL (inside Michigan) $50,000-$250,000 PIP
$15,000 PIP (basic coverage option)
$5,000 medical benefits
Note: It is mandatory in these 12 states for the policyholder to have the right amount of coverage for each of these insurances.
How Is Fault Proven in a Car Accident?
To prove fault, an insurance adjuster will need to be able to prove the negligence of the at-fault driver after the car accident.
When an accident takes place and it is time to prove or dispute fault, insurance adjusters will typically look at the rules of the road and consider evidence such as:
- Police reports.
- Witness statements.
- The location of the vehicle damage.
- Traffic tickets issued after the accident.
This information will help to determine who is at-fault in the car accident.
What Losses Will Your Insurance Company Cover If You Are At-Fault in an Accident?
All types of auto insurance are designed to cover losses that are caused by a car accident.
However, what is actually covered will depend on factors such as the state you live in and what insurance policy you have chosen.
It is best to check with your insurance company to understand the at-fault laws that apply to the state that you live in, as well as understand the coverage that you have in place.
Let’s take a look at the two insurances that will cover you in the event of an at-fault accident:
If you are in an accident, whether you are at-fault or not, this insurance will cover you for any damages to your vehicle. It’s important to note that this cover is optional and not mandatory in any U.S. state.
For example, if the damages amount to $5,000 and you have a deductible of $500, your insurer will pay $4,500 toward the repairs and you will cover $500.
When setting up this coverage, be sure that you set a deductible amount that you can afford.
Bodily injury liability insurance
When you have been found at-fault in an accident, bodily injury liability insurance will help to cover the cost of injuries to your passengers, the driver, and passengers of the other vehicle. However, it won’t cover any injuries you sustain.
This coverage goes beyond just medical expenses and includes cover for financial difficulties that the other driver and their passengers may experience, such as lost wages.
If You Are At-Fault in an Accident, What Should You Do?
When you are involved in a car accident, regardless of whose fault it is, it is important to stay as calm as possible in this very stressful situation.
If anyone is injured, contact 911 immediately and allow emergency services to tend to any medical needs of the drivers and passengers involved.
Once you know that everyone is safe, you will need to do the following:
Don’t leave the scene of the accident
To make sure that the road is safe for other motorists, you may need to move your vehicle out of the road, but don’t leave the scene.
Never pursue another driver that leaves the scene of the accident. Rather wait for the authorities to arrive and let them know what has happened.
Contact the correct authorities
If anyone is hurt, contact 911 immediately. Aside from this, contact your local police and ask them to come to the scene of the accident so that you can prepare a statement with them.
A police report is essential for you to file a claim with your insurance company and for them to determine who is at-fault in the car accident.
It will be very helpful if you are able to take photos of the accident scene before you move the cars off the road.
Begin by documenting the damage to the cars and any injuries. Then ensure that you have license plate numbers, and have noted the time of day and traffic conditions when the accident took place.
You should also make a note of any road hazards that may have caused the accident. If there are any witnesses, try to get their names and contact information.
You will also want to get the other driver’s name as well as their insurance information.
Avoid admitting fault after the accident
Although this can be difficult, try to avoid admitting fault for the accident. When it comes to your police statement, simply state the facts without saying that the accident was your fault.
The police and insurance companies will arrive at their own conclusion of who caused the accident, based on the evidence that they gather.
Contact your insurance company
It is best to let your insurance company know about the accident immediately after you have made your statement with the police.
Not only will your insurance agent help you to start processing your claim, but they will also help you understand your car insurance coverage.
In addition to this, they will take you through the process of gathering the right evidence at the scene.
When speaking to your insurer, tell them the basics about the accident, including where it happened, after which they will guide you further.
How Should You Work with Your Insurance Company after an At-Fault Accident?
Whether the accident is your fault or not, it is best to focus on the details that you need to provide your insurer with in order to resolve your claim.
Here are the steps that you would typically need to take in order to streamline the claims process with your insurance company:
Report the facts
Do not admit fault to your insurer after a car accident, but do make sure that you report the exact events that took place. In other words, report only the facts.
Gather and submit evidence
If you took pictures and collected the contact details of the other driver and any witnesses, put all this information together and give these to your insurance agent.
Your insurance agent will tell you how you can submit the information to them so that they can determine whose fault the accident was.
File the claim
When you get a chance to talk to your insurance agent from a safe location after the accident, ask them how you need to start the process of filing a claim.
This could include the cost of repairing damages and the payment of any medical bills that are required.
Your insurance agent will guide you through the claims process at this point and you will be asked to submit your evidence, as well as your police report.
Will Your Insurance Rates Go Up If You Are Found At-Fault in a Car Accident?
If you have been found to be at-fault in a car crash, your car insurance rates won’t automatically go up. In fact, they may not rise at all.
Your insurance company will consider various factors before they determine an increase in your rate.
They will, for example, take a look at your driving record and will consider the circumstances around the accident.
In other words, if the road was slippery due to oil on the road or the road being wet from rain, then it may be that you were not able to prevent the accident.
In this case, your car insurance rates will most likely not go up.
On the other hand, if you were found to be negligent in some way while driving, then your car insurance rate may go up.
If your car insurance premium does increase, the best approach to take is to try and establish a good driving record. This will ensure that you pay the lowest amount in car insurance premiums in the future.
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