7 Insurance Options When You Get Into An Accident

If a motor vehicle crash inflicts property damage and personal injury, the process of getting compensation for these damages can prove long and complicated. However, the right insurance in advance and understanding your state’s insurance laws can keep you from the application of "Murphy's Accident Law." That is, not everything has to go wrong in recovering for your injuries. Here are seven ways insurance may compensate you. 

Liability Insurance

States that operate under the “fault” system require drivers to carry liability insurance. For coverage to arise, the driver of the covered vehicle must be at “fault.” Actions such as driving while impaired, speeding, failing to keep a proper lookout, running a stop sign or red light, or texting while driving may create liability for the driver and his or her liability policy.

In some cases, liability insurance represents a recovery option even if the careless driver does not own the vehicle. If the driver was a family or household member of the owner, you can hold the owner responsible under the “family purpose doctrine.” This theory applies when the owner makes the vehicle available for use by household members, and the owner had the driver’s permission. Businesses and governmental bodies that own vehicles face vicarious liability if the driver was acting while about the employer’s business.

If your accident occurred in Alabama, the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, or Virginia, any degree of fault by you completely bars recovery. Other states rely on comparative negligence to reduce recovery based on the percentage of fault of the injured person. 

When Liability Insurance Doesn’t Exist or Is Not Enough

Liability insurance has its limits. To comply with liability insurance mandates means that the drivers only have to obtain a certain minimum coverage. Often, this is not adequate to compensate seriously injured victims of negligence. in some cases, you might have The misfortune of being injured by someone with no insurance.

For these scenarios, uninsured and underinsured coverage provides a solution. These policies go with your own vehicle or vehicles. Uninsured kicks in when the driver that hit you failed to have liability coverage. Underinsured pays for damages not completely satisfied through liability coverage. to get the benefits of this coverage, the driver that hit you must still face responsibility for the crash. As a result, you may have to sue your own insurance company to hold another driver or owner liable. 

The No-Fault Approach to Personal Injuries 

A number of states adopt “no-fault” recovery for injured parties. To effectuate this, car owners in these states must acquire “no-fault” insurance. It pays your medical expenses and a portion of lost wages, lost earning capacity and diminution of your ability to perform household tasks. As such, no-fault insurance pays many (but not all) of the types of damages an injured driver in a tort state would recover. The policies must afford a minimum amount of coverage for the accident and for the injured person.

Notably absent from these personal injury protection policies is coverage for pain and suffering. To collect these non-economic damages, you must pursue a claim against the other driver. In suits for pain and suffering, you must establish the negligence or other fault of the other motorist. Even then, many no-fault states do not allow recovery unless your medical expenses exceed a particular threshold or you suffer a severe injury such as a fracture.

Generally, no-fault insurance on your vehicle does not pay for your own property damage. To be reimbursed for property damage, you must resort to the other driver’s insurance and must show fault. Also, you may go outside the no-fault system to recover damage to your land, buildings or other property damaged by a negligent driver.

Medical Payments Coverage 

Medical payments, or medpay, insurance covers the costs of medical services rendered due to the crash. This coverage comes as part of your automobile insurance but is optional in at-fault states. To access medpay coverage does not require a showing of fault by the other driver or your own lack of fault. 

When You’re On the Job 

Employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance to pay benefits to those injured while performing their job duties. If you’re injured in a car accident that happens in the course of your employment, workers’ compensation insurance covers medical expenses. In addition, you may receive a percentage of your pay based upon the extent that the wreck renders you disabled to work.

Unlike liability insurance, workers’ compensation policies do not pay for pain and suffering or property damage. This is a trade-off for the fact that the right to workers’ compensation does not depend on proving negligence or a violation of the law by the employer. 

Health Insurance 

With your health insurance, you have a source to pay for emergency room visits, hospitalization, rehabilitation and other medical attention necessitated by the wreck. The benefits of the policy apply regardless if you are at fault. Medical providers will request your health insurance policy information and make claims for payments on the policy.

The fact that you have health insurance does not necessarily limit your ability to recover from the at-fault driver. Your damages are not reduced due to the fact that another party, such as a health insurer, paid your medical bills. This “collateral source” rule prevents at-fault drivers from avoiding responsibility for your actions. However, depending on your policy or state, either you or the at-fault driver may have to reimburse the health insurer for amounts it paid on your medical bills. 

When You Crash Into an Object

Collision coverage applies to damages to your vehicle when it hits another vehicle or object. Accordingly, impacts with buildings, telephone or electric poles, walls, and trees trigger collision coverage. You need not establish the fault of the other driver, and you get the benefit of collision coverage even if you’re the at-fault driver.

The collision part of the policy pays the cost of repairs or if your vehicle is deemed a “total loss, the value of the vehicle immediately before the crash. Most policies have a deductible, which represents an amount you must pay out-of-pocket. Many collision policies include allowances for the rental value.

If your wreck involves only damage to the vehicle, you may want to consider filing under your collision coverage rather than the at-fault driver. The former alternative is more apt to address your urgent or prompt need for transportation. Since fault does not factor into collision insurance, the adjuster concentrates on the extent of damage, the cost of repairs, or the value of the vehicle. You are not awaiting someone’s determination of liability for the crash. Your insurance company may sue the at-fault driver to recover what you were paid. In such an event, you may be reimbursed for your deductible.