WHY IS MY AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE POLICY IMPORTANT IF I AM INJURED IN A CAR ACCIDENT, BUT I AM NOT THE AT-FAULT PARTY?
- July 26, 2016
Automobile accident claims in California are not as simple as filing a claim with an at-fault driver’s insurance company and waiting for a response. Many accident victims do this, but handling a car accident claim personally is never a good decision unless the damages are minimal and there is little insurance coverage. Accidents that result in serious injury are always investigated thoroughly for an official report that is then used to determine the drivers who are responsible for the crash. The truth is that most accidents are the result of mistakes or negligence on some level by most parties involved, which can have a major impact on how the case is finalized through the court. Some cases are obvious enough that they do not even go to court, but many cases of high value are often highly contested by the respondent insurance company attempting to lessen the total payout in an accident injury claim. In California, motorists are allowed to carry personal injury protection coverage on their auto policy, even though it is not a state requirement, and many times these injured claimants will also carry uninsured or under-insured coverage, which can also affect the final outcome of a claim. These cases can get complicated quickly and it is always a solid decision to retain a personal injury attorney like the professionals at our firm to ensure maximum recovery potential.
California uses pure comparative negligence law when adjudicating automobile accidents. This is the legal theory that there are several factors that can cause an accident and many times the injured claimants are also negligent to some degree in causation. The court always evaluates the contribution of each party to an accident and determines a comparative negligence percentage for each driver, which is an area where your attorney can work to lessen your percentage. Even when an injured claimant is 90% at fault for an accident they can receive 10% of total benefits available regardless of fault. The lower the fault of the injured party, the higher the damage award potential. Inversely, even individuals who are largely not at fault for an accident will need to provide their personal insurance policy during the adjudication of the accident because the level of fault matters significantly in a final payout and your personal insurance coverage can increase financial damage availability.
Personal Injury Protection
Personal injury protection is coverage individuals carry on themselves in the event they are in an accident and is usually the first entity required to cover medical bills. Individuals who have personal health insurance can stipulate this as primary coverage and the amount of personal injury protection can be held for case settlement. Of course, this can put you in an adversarial position with your own insurance company, and having an experienced attorney can mean that you are insulated from dealing with the adjuster personally while ensuring that all riders of your policy are applied. While there can be some limitations on pursuing damages beyond the PIP rider, this can still be a part of a settlement that may get missed without detailed counsel. Personal insurance protection is also transportable, so it can also be used if you are injured in another vehicle.
Uninsured and Under-insured Protection
This is another potential rider on your personal auto policy that can also be very valuable when you have been in an accident with an uninsured or under-insured driver. However, this personal insurance protection only applies when the court has determined that the injured party is eligible due to the insurance coverage status of the at-fault drivers. Uninsured coverage will cover all claimable expenses owed by the at-fault parties, and under-insured protection will cover the balance beyond the at-fault driver’s policy up to your policy coverage. Uncovered damages may or may not be recoverable depending on case factors.
Even when you are using your personal insurance policy for financial recovery following an accident, you will always need an effective attorney for an equitable settlement. Anyone in California who has been injured in an auto accident should contact our law firm for a comprehensive evaluation of your personal insurance policy and how it can impact the value of your auto accident claim.