Eight Things You Should Know About Car Accident Insurance
Liability car insurance protects drivers and passengers from paying car repair bills, medical bills and other large expenses if they cause a car accident.
If you own a car in West Virginia, you must carry liability insurance. This insurance policy will compensate any individuals who suffer personal injury or property damage in a crash caused by your negligence.
By that same token, you can seek compensation from a negligent driver's car wreck insurer if you are injured in an accident that he or she caused.
As a driver in West Virginia, you should understand the laws regarding the use of car accident insurance and what you can expect if you need to file a claim after an accident.
If you work with an experienced car accident lawyer, of course, it will make this process much easier for you.
1. Most settlements come from insurance companies.
If you can prove that the insured driver's negligence caused you to suffer an injury and other damages, the insurance provider must compensate you.
The insurance provider can reject your claim if it deems that the insured driver either was not at fault or that you did not suffer an injury.
If your claim is rejected, you can file a lawsuit, which will bring your case to court to be heard by a jury. This is an expensive process for all parties involved. So, insurance companies attempt to avoid this by working with claimants to reach fair settlements.
2. Insurance companies want to pay claimants as little as possible.
When you file a claim with a negligent driver's car insurance provider, an adjuster from the company will be assigned to your claim. The adjuster's role is to determine a fair settlement offer for your damages.
In nearly all cases, the adjuster begins the negotiation process by offering the client the absolute lowest amount of money that the adjuster thinks the claimant will accept. Almost always, this figure can be negotiated to an appropriate amount.
Your lawyer can help you to obtain the evidence you need to support the amount you are seeking and can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
3. Multiple parties can be at fault for an auto accident.
More than one party can be involved in a car crash. More than one of these parties can be deemed to be at fault, too. Each party's insurance provider can receive multiple claims from the accident, and each individual involved may file multiple personal injury claims.
In a multi-party accident, each party's level of fault must be determined.
Under West Virginia law, parties who were partially at fault may still recover compensation for their damages as long as they were determined not 50 percent or more at fault for the accident. Partially at-fault parties' total compensation amounts are reduced according to their levels of fault.
4. You must establish fault to recover damages in West Virginia.
When an individual is injured in a car crash in West Virginia, he or she must file his or her personal injury claim with the negligent driver's insurance provider.
In West Virginia, unlike a handful of other states, you cannot file a no-fault or personal injury protection (PIP) claim.
Through a personal injury claim, you can seek compensation for your medical expenses related to the injury such as hospitalization and medication costs. You can also seek compensation for lost wages, diminished earning capacity, pain and suffering and more.
5. You can recover seek compensation even if the at-fault driver was uninsured or underinsured.
When the negligent party does not have insurance, or if he or she has an insufficient level of coverage to compensate you for your damages, you can seek compensation for your outstanding expenses through your own uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage.
This is true even if you were riding a bicycle or walking when your accident occurred. This type of coverage can also be used to cover your damages in the event you are injured in a hit-and-run accident and cannot locate the responsible driver.
6. It is possible to make a mistake and hurt your claim.
An insurance adjuster may try to pressure you into making a statement about the accident. The adjuster will seek a statement about your actions, another driver's actions or your resulting injury. The adjuster might also try to pressure you into accepting a settlement offer. Do not take either of these actions without consulting with your lawyer.
Even a slight misrepresentation or oversharing of facts can significantly reduce the amount of compensation you are able to collect. In some cases, a statement can invalidate your claim.
Additionally, if you fill out your paperwork incorrectly - for instance, you make a mistake about where the accident occurred or the other driver's name - it can cause your claim to be rejected.
7. Your insurance covers you in other states and Canada.
You are still covered by your insurance policy when you drive in other states and when you drive in Canada. If you drive in Mexico, however, your insurance generally will not be applicable unless you can obtain an endorsement from your insurance provider for a brief visit to the country.
8. You are legally required to carry certain levels of coverage.
In West Virginia, motorists must purchase liability coverage in the following minimum amounts:
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- $25,000 for bodily injury to one person
- $50,000 for bodily injury to two or more persons (per accident)
- $25,000 for property damage
- $25,000 per person or $50,000 per accident uninsured motorist coverage.
You certainly can purchase greater coverage levels or even additional insurance benefits, such as rental reimbursement and towing coverage, but this is not required by law.
Work with an Experienced West Virginia Auto Accident Attorney
If you suffer injuries in a car accident, the first thing you should do after leaving the scene of the accident is to seek appropriate medical attention for your injury.
The first thing you should do after receiving a medical diagnosis and treatment is to contact an experienced motor vehicle accident lawyer to discuss the next steps in the personal injury claim process. Reach out to our team at Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC. We can provide a free initial consultation today.