Can Your Car Insurance Affect the Outcome of Your Injury Claim or Lawsuit?
Everyone who’s been in a car accident knows how annoying it is dealing with insurance companies. It feels like instead of helping you, they are working against you every step of the way. If we weren’t required to carry car insurance, many people wouldn’t even bother. But when you are involved in a car accident, you’ll be glad that you have it.
So, let’s first look at the basics of a car accident claim, and what your insurance does.
The role of fault in a car accident claim
All drivers are required to carry some type of liability insurance so that their damages and the other driver’s damages are covered in the event of a Phoenix car accident. It’s safe to say that most of us would not be able to pay out of pocket for vehicle repairs, medical bills, and time off from work. These are the damages that your insurance policy covers in an accident. Of course, all of this depends on one crucial fact: who is at fault.
If the other driver is at-fault for a car accident, then you can file a claim against that driver.. If their insurance company offers you a settlement and the settlement is in your best interests, you can take it. If it’s not, you can take the at-fault driver to court. Most car accident claims will end in a settlement, it’s true, but not all of them. (Having an attorney on your side can improve the chances of you being offered a more fair and just award from the start.)
For the record, the same situation applies if you are at fault.
What are the different types of auto insurance policies?
When you purchase car insurance, you’re purchasing one policy that covers a lot of different elements. In a typical policy, you have:
Bodily injury and property liability
Bodily injury liability is one of the required insurance policies for most drivers. This is the policy that usually covers the costs of medical bills. You are also required to have property damage liability, which covers things like the cost of repairs to your vehicle or other property losses. In Arizona, you need a minimum of:
- $25,000 for one person sustaining bodily injury or death in an accident
- $50,000 for two or more persons sustaining bodily injury or death in an accident
- $15,000 for property damage
Medical payments coverage
Another insurance policy that can help you is medical payments coverage, sometimes called MedPay. This policy helps cover the costs of your medical expenses and any medical expenses of your passengers related to your car accident. MedPay applies no matter who is at fault for the accident, and your reimbursement check can even be used to cover your deductibles.
Uninsured /underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage
This insurance policy helps cover the costs of your medical expenses when you have been hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver. It can be used to cover medical expenses and property loss. UM/UIM is crucial coverage in the event of an accident with an uninsured or hit and run driver. Even if you have collision and comprehensive coverage, if you’re hit by an uninsured driver, this coverage will not take care of your medical expenses. Ensure you have both bodily injury and property damage UM/UIM coverage.
This is an insurance policy that is optional, but helps with the costs of vehicle repairs. If your car hits another vehicle or some other type of property, you can use this coverage to pay for your repairs once you pay a deductible.
Can you use health insurance after a car accident?
You can! In fact, it may be better for you if you do. Hospitals charge different rates to health insurance providers than to car insurance providers, and believe us when we say they WANT your auto insurance. They make more money, and you will receive less. What they won’t tell you is that you don’t have to give them your car insurance.
Issues with insurance policies that can affect your final award
One of the challenges you will face in your lawsuit is figuring out which policy the other driver has. Some of these insurance policies are not required in every state, so if you are involved in an accident with an out-of-state driver, things can get complicated. The at-fault driver may not carry the type of insurance policy that you filed a claim under. Even worse, the other driver may not even be insured. Fortunately, if these situations happen, you can file with your own insurance policy and seek compensation.
Another way that your car insurance affects you is your policy limit. Each policy comes up to a certain dollar amount for compensation. If your damages exceed that amount, or the other driver’s damages exceed the amount of your policy, it will make it harder to seek compensation. The other driver’s insurance company may use that as an excuse to offer you a much lower award, but there are ways around this. It can be complicated, though, so you want to speak with an attorney.
Why you shouldn’t accept a settlement without speaking to a lawyer first
Your pain from an accident can become worse in the future. It’s common to experience constant back and neck pain long after a crash. But once you take a settlement offer, there’s no going back: what you accept is final, and you cannot sue for more money in the future.
Working with a lawyer can keep you from being lowballed by the insurance company. We can make sure you’re getting a fair deal, and negotiate on your behalf. If the insurance company refuses to play ball, we can look at your different options for moving forward, including the possibility of holding them accountable in a jury trial.
At Plattner Verderame, P.C., we fight for the good people of Phoenix and Tempe. If you have been seriously hurt in an auto accident, reach out to our attorneys today. Call our office at 602-266-2002, or submit our contact form to schedule a free initial consultation. We represent you on a contingency fee basis, which means that we only get paid if we obtain a favorable settlement or verdict on your behalf.
Nick is a member of the State Bar of Arizona, the Arizona Association for Justice (formerly the Arizona Trial Lawyers Association) and the American Association for Justice (AAJ). He currently serves on the AAJ’s Political Action Task Force and its Oversight Committee, and on the Board of Governors for Revitalization in Arizona.
Read more about Nick Verderame