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SHOULD I NOTIFY MY INSURANCE COMPANY OF THE ACCIDENT?
The short answer to this question is yes, but there are specific reasons you will want to do this anyway. One reason is that all states have a register of vehicle owners and their insurance providers, and any accident report will generate a notification to your insurance company. It is always best to report the accident first hand because of trust issues. But, there may also be components of your personal auto insurance policy that can be used when the at-fault driver or their insurance company is defending the assignment of fault. Contacting your personal auto insurance carrier is always the first step in financial recovery following an accident, and contacting an experienced auto accident attorney should be the immediate next step. This is especially true with serious accident injury claims, and is always a positive step even following a typical accident resulting in nominal injuries that may be difficult when recovering physically.
Many times an auto accident will result in damage to a personal vehicle that could render the victim unable to report for work even when they are not necessarily injured badly. All complications and restrictions associated with loss of the use of the property should be included in a claim beyond damage to or destruction of the vehicle. Property damage claims can be paid relatively quickly in obvious situations of liability for the insurance provider and the negligence of the respondent driver. Individuals with full collision coverage may want to use their personal insurance rider and let the insurance companies battle it out when finalizing the claim.
Personal Injury Protection
Many individuals in California carry personal injury protection, or PIP, riders on their auto policy that helps cover injury damages when a respondent driver has inadequate amounts of insurance protection. While it is possible that the actual driver can be pursued for additional damages when insurance coverage is maximized by medical bills, the additional personal protection coverage can be added to the final accident settlement. This component of an auto accident injury protection is a premium portion of a policy and should always be used when possible because medical bills can mount quickly and the recovery can greatly enhance the value of an injury claim.
Uninsured and Under-Insured Driver Coverage
Many individuals in California will also include additional coverage for uninsured or under-insured drivers on their personal auto policy. This too is a premium based rider on any insurance policy and the limit for required insurance protection in California is $15,000, which is a very low minimum coverage level. In addition, property damage requirements are only $5000. This means that almost all Californians who carry uninsured and under-insured coverage will need to use this rider when filing any accident claim, even though this can be contested by your own insurance company. This is common even from your own personal policy carrier because the level of comparative negligence for all drivers is assessed in any subsequent court case and defending the claim can result in a smaller total payout for the insurance company. This situation can easily put an injured victim in an adversarial situation with their own insurance agency, which is something an experienced auto accident and personal injury attorney can help insulate.
These are just a few considerations any accident victim should review when pursuing financial recovery after a mishap, especially when your own insurance company is involved. Even when an accident only involves two parties, cases can become complicated quickly. And, for crashes involving multiple parties or commercial vehicles, the complications can worsen because the level of insurance protections can be compounded when your attorney can prove negligence on the part of multiple drivers. Punitive damages could also be a potential, but these must be awarded by a jury in a full trial of the accident case. Always get an attorney following a collision and report the claim immediately to your own insurance company.
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