Automobile Accident Frequently Asked Questions

Q How Do I Know If I Have The Proper Insurance? 

A The best way to know if you have the proper automobile insurance is to call an attorney and have him review and evaluate all of your policies. Most attorneys would be willing to perform this service for free. It is best to determine whether you have the proper insurance before you get into an accident because it is too late to change your coverages for that accident. Since the laws and rates affecting insurance companies change frequently in each state, you should make sure that you have all of the coverages to protect yourself and your family. It is not a good idea to rely solely on the advice of your agent since he may have certain incentives to not provide coverage you really need. 

Q Do I Need Uninsured Motorists Coverage? 

A Yes. In fact, in some states, you automatically have uninsured motorists coverage up to the limits of your liability limits unless you specifically waive such coverage. This coverage is the only way to protect yourself and your family if you are involved in an automobile accident with someone who either has no insurance at all or who has minimal coverage. You should maintain at least $100,000 worth of uninsured motorists coverage on all of your vehicles. 

Q What is Medical Payments Coverage? 

A This coverage is a type of coverage designed to pay for your medical expenses if you are involved in an accident in your vehicle. This coverage applies regardless of the fault of the parties and must be automatically paid if you present proof of medical expenses incurred as a result of an accident in which you were involved in your own vehicle. This coverage is available in addition to your liability and uninsured motorists coverage. It is recommended that you maintain $25,000 worth of medical payments coverage. 

Q What is the Difference Between Collision and Comprehensive Coverage? 

A Collision coverage applies when you have had an accident or damaged you car without the involvement of another vehicle. For instance, if you back into a pole or hit a tree, your collision coverage would pay for the damage to your vehicle. It usually comes with a deductible before the coverage pays for such damage. Comprehensive coverage applies to flood damage, vandalism or theft of your vehicle by another person. Again, it does not involve an accident with another vehicle unless it occurs during the theft of your car. It too usually comes with a deductible. However, it does not cover any of the contents which may be stolen from your car. 

Q Should I Get My Homeowners Insurance to Cover My Vehicles and If So How? 

A Yes. The more coverage you have available, the more likely it is that you will receive all of the compensation to which you are entitled if you are involved in a serious accident. Homeowners insurance can apply to you car by purchasing an umbrella or excess policy.. An umbrella policy in the amount of $1 million is usually available for a few hundred dollars extra per year and will entitle you to have additional coverage that applies to the liability and uninsured motorists coverages of your auto policy. It also gives the same protection to your homeowners coverages. 

Q Should I Contact My Own Insurance Company If I Have Been Involved In An Automobile Accident That Was Not My Fault? 

A Yes. Your own insurance company has certain obligations to you even if you are not at fault. One of these obligations is to pay to fix your car quickly and then go after the other driver’s insurance company to get reimbursed. If you have medical payments or rental car coverages, they may also be obligated to immediately pay for you to rent another car while yours is in the shop and to pay for your medical expenses. Make sure you contact your own insurance company immediately following any accident. 

Q Who Pays For My Medical Bills And Car Repairs?

A If you are not at fault in the accident, the other driver’s liability insurance will pay for your personal injuries and car repairs. If the other driver does not have insurance, then your own insurance company will pay for your personal injuries and repair expenses only if you have uninsured motorists coverage and/or medical payments coverage. If you are at fault in the accident, your liability insurance will pay for the injuries and property damage of the other driver. Your collision coverage will pay for your vehicle damage and your medical payments coverage will cover your medical bills. 

Q What If The Other Driver Does Not Have Insurance? 

A Most states have laws which make automobile liability insurance mandatory for any person owning a car. Various penalities and fines may be levied against any person failing to carry insurance in at least minimal amounts. This does not help pay for your medical expenses, lost wages and property damages. The only way to protect yourself in the event the other driver is either uninsured or underinsured (does not have enough coverage), is to purchase uninsured motorists coverage. Make sure you have this important coverage on all of your vehicles. 

Q What If I Do Not Have Insurance And I Am Involved In An Accident Which Was Not My Fault? 

A Because most states require that persons who own a vehicle must carry insurance in at least minimal limits, you will likely be the subject of a fine or other punishment depending on the law of the particular state. Generally, the other driver’s liability coverage will be responsible for paying for your injuries and property damages. However, many states have new laws called “no pay, no play.” This means that if you do not have insurance, you forfeit the first $10,000 (or what ever sum the law says), worth of damages you suffer. After that sum, you can recover from the other driver’s liability policy. 

Q Does My Uninsured Motorists Coverage Apply Even If I Am Injured In Another Person’s Vehicle? 

A Yes. Under most policies, your uninsured motorists coverage follows you to every vehicle in which you are an occupant or driver. Thus, if you are riding with a friend and get involved in an automobile accident with a driver who was at fault, but who does not have either any insurance or enough insurance, your uninsured motorists coverage will pay for your damage up to the policy limits. Many states will allow you to “stack” your own UM coverage on top of another UM coverage (like the owner of the vehicle in which you are riding). Check your state laws. 

Q Will My Insurance Company Drop Me If I Make a Claim? 

A Generally, if you are not at fault in the accident and you make a claim against your medical payments coverage or your uninsured motorists coverage, your insurance company will not usually drop your coverage. This is because the accident was not your fault. If you are at fault and another driver makes a claim against your liability coverage, your insurance company may drop or increase your coverage. 

Q Does My Insurance Provide Coverage To Persons That I Lend My Car To If They Are Not Named On My Policy? 

A Yes. Most insurance agreements contain what is know as the Omnibus clause. This means that if you give someone else permission to use your car, and they are involved in an accident, then the coverages you have also apply to them. However, the question of coverage usually depends on the issue of permission. If you did not give permission, then there may not be coverage. Be careful on this question because if you tell the adjuster that you did not give permission, they will deny coverage and you may be personally liable for the damages caused when the vehicle was used. 

Q Who Pays For My Damage If I Am Involved In A Hit And Run Accident? 

A If you have uninsured motorists coverage or collision coverage, your own insurance company will pay for your property damage and/or personal injuries. Under most policies, there must be actual contact with another vehicle before the uninsured motorist provision will apply. This means that if an unidentifiable vehicle runs you off the road without contact, you may not be able to recover for your personal injuries. However, if you have collision coverage, your property damage will be paid under this provision. If you have medical payments coverage, your medical expenses will be paid under this provision 

Q Do Most Automobile Accident Cases Settle Before I Must File a Lawsuit? 

A Generally the answer is yes. However, if there are severe injuries and the coverages involved are high, a lawsuit will usually be necessary. This is because there is too much information and too much money at stake to justify an early settlement. An early settlement may also depend on whether your injuries and your treatment are completely known before the time to file suit. It may also depend on how short the statute of limitations is in your state. If there is a short statute of limitations and your injuries are not well healed, you may have to institute suit. 

Q What Is The Statute Of Limitations For Filing A Lawsuit In An Automobile Accident Case? 

A The statute of limitations is a time period by which a lawsuit must be filed in order to preserve your claim. If a lawsuit is not filed within the appropriate statute of limitations you will generally give up all rights to pursue your claim. The statute of limitations varies by state. Some states like Louisiana have a short statute of limitations of one year in which to bring a claim. Other states may allow two or more years in which to bring a claim. Check with a lawyer in your state to be sure. The best advice is to seek legal counsel well before the first year anniversary of the accident.

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