Insurance claims after a car accident can be a bit confusing. It’s a stressful situation to begin with, especially if you suffered injuries and had to miss time at work because of the accident. And since most people don’t get in car accidents very often, you may be unfamiliar with the claims process.
One thing many drivers don’t understand is why it’s their insurance company paying for their injuries even though they weren’t at fault for the accident. There can be a couple reasons for this. The most common explanation is that it’s due to the fault laws in the state where you got in the accident.
How Fault and No Fault Laws Work with Car Accidents
When it comes to car accidents, a state can have fault laws or no fault laws. If the state has fault laws, then the negligent driver in a car accident will be considered at fault, and his insurance company will need to pay for the other driver’s damages, including vehicle repairs and injuries.
There are different types of fault laws in those states. Most of those states will use comparative negligence rules, which means that a certain percentage of the fault can be assigned to each driver, and you can only recover your damages minus your fault percentage. For example, if you were 20 percent at fault for an accident and suffered $10,000 in damages, the other driver’s insurance would need to pay you $8,000. If the other driver was 100 percent at fault, their insurance would be liable for all your damages.
In no fault states, fault isn’t assigned in a car accident, and neither driver’s insurance is responsible for the other driver’s damages. Each driver’s insurance policy in these states will include a personal injury policy, which covers any injuries suffered in a car accident.
Situations Where the Other Driver’s Insurance May Avoid Paying for Your Injuries
There are two common situations when your insurance could end up paying for your injuries, even though the other driver was at fault. The first is if you live in a no fault state. Obviously, since fault isn’t assigned in those states, it won’t matter if the other driver caused the crash. It will still be your insurance company paying for your damages.
Some states with fault laws have what is known as contributory negligence rules. What these rules essentially mean is that if you were involved in a car accident and you had any degree of negligence, you can’t recover any damages from the other driver or their insurance company.
Contributory negligence rules are rare and only a select few states still have them in place. Unfortunately, if you live in one of these states, even negligence that plays hardly any role in the accident can bar you from recovering damages. For example, if the other driver turned left in front of you when you had the right of way, but you were speeding at the time, that could prevent you from recovering anything. Of course, the other driver would need to prove that you were speeding.
It May Take Time for the Other Driver’s Insurance to Reimburse Your Insurance
Just because your insurance company initially paid for your injuries doesn’t mean that that will be the final result. As part of your policy, your insurance company may need to pay for any repairs to your car or injuries you suffer promptly after an accident. They will then go through the process of getting compensation from the other driver’s insurance company.
Now, there are often situations when another driver’s insurance company will drag things out as much as possible and try to avoid paying for your injury claim. Or, they will look for reasons to pay less than what your actual expenses were. If you’re frustrated with the way your claim is going, it’s smart to talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer who has handled these types of cases before. Your lawyer can put pressure on the insurance company and ensure that the company pays for the accident its driver caused.