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How Does Car Insurance Work When You Are Not at Fault? What You Should Do

Michael Agruss

Written and Reviewed by Michael Agruss

  • Managing Partner and Personal Injury Lawyer at Mike Agruss Law.
  • Over 20 years of experience in Personal Injury.
  • Over 8000+ consumer rights cases settled.
  • Graduated from the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law: Juris Doctor, 2004.

Understanding how car insurance functions when one is not at fault for an accident is crucial for both peace of mind and financial protection. Usually, following a collision where a driver is not to blame, the at-fault party’s insurance is responsible for covering vehicle repairs, medical expenses, and other damages. The process involves filing a claim with the insurance company of the driver who is at fault, which then assesses the incident and allocates funds for coverage based on policy details and the extent of the damages or injuries incurred.

There can be complexities, such as when the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured. In such cases, the not-at-fault driver’s insurance may come into play to cover the shortfall. This is where having uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is beneficial. It provides a safety net that ensures that a driver is not left financially burdened due to another’s lack of adequate insurance.

Moreover, in no-fault states, the process differs, as each party’s insurance covers their respective expenses regardless of who caused the accident. This system aims to streamline the process and reduce the need for litigation but can also lead to confusion regarding the claims process. Therefore, a clear understanding of one’s own insurance policy and the laws of the state in which the accident occurs is essential when dealing with vehicle accidents and insurance claims.

Person Signing Papers On Which A Toy Car And Keys are put

Understanding Car Insurance Claims

When an individual is involved in a car accident and is not at fault, navigating the car insurance claim process is crucial. The key points involve initiating the claim and determining fault, both of which influence the coverage and compensation received.

Initiating the Claims Process

Upon being involved in an accident, the not-at-fault driver should immediately notify their insurance company to start the claims process. The following steps are typically taken:

  1. Contact Insurance: The driver calls their insurance provider and provides initial details about the incident.
  2. Claim Number: The insurance company assigns a claim number, which is used to track the case.
  3. Documentation: They collect necessary documentation, which can include:
  • Photos of the accident scene
  • Police reports
  • Contact information of the involved parties
  • Witness statements, if available
  1. Inspection: The insurance company arranges for an inspection of the vehicle to assess damage.
  2. Rental Vehicle: If applicable, the driver may be provided with a rental vehicle.

Determining Fault in an Accident

Determining fault is a critical component of the claims process. Insurance companies assess the following:

Accident Details: Insurers review all details provided by the drivers, witnesses, and the police report.

State Laws: They consider state traffic laws to understand if any violations occurred.

Fault Percentage: Some states use comparative negligence, which allows fault to be shared between parties.

Documentation provided helps insurers assess fault accurately, and once fault is established, the at-fault driver’s insurance is typically responsible for providing compensation. The not-at-fault driver’s insurance company may also communicate with the at-fault driver’s provider for reimbursement if the claim is settled in favor of their insured.

Interaction with Insurance Companies

Following a car accident where an individual is not at fault, there are specific protocols when dealing with insurance companies. They will need to communicate effectively with the other driver’s insurance company and coordinate with their own insurance provider.

Communicating with the Other Driver’s Insurance

When an individual is involved in a car accident and is not at fault, they must get the other driver’s insurance information at the scene. Subsequently, they should contact the at-fault driver’s insurance company to initiate a claim. During this process, it is important to provide the accident report and any evidence of damages. Review the offered settlement by the other driver’s insurance to ensure it covers all damages.

Working with Your Own Insurance Provider

Even when not at fault, reporting the accident to one’s own insurance company is crucial. An individual’s insurance provider can offer guidance through the process and, if needed, help manage the claim with the other driver’s insurance company. Steps to follow include:

  • Report the accident immediately to ensure coverage is in accordance with the policy terms.
  • Provide documentation such as photos, police reports, and repair estimates.
  • Understand the coverage options, like collision coverage, which might cover damages upfront and then seek reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurance.

Legal Assistance and Representation

When involved in a car accident where one is not at fault, legal assistance can help ensure fair compensation and representation in potential disputes. Attorneys specializing in vehicle incidents can navigate the complexities of insurance claims and litigation, like a car accident lawyer from Mike Agruss Law.

When to Seek Legal Help

One should consider seeking legal help if they face challenges with the insurance claim process after a car accident. This includes situations where the at-fault party’s insurance company denies the claim or offers inadequate compensation. Mike Agruss Law offers free initial consultations to evaluate the case and guide the client on the benefits of legal representation.

If there are disputes over fault or significant injuries, legal expertise is crucial. Our attorneys can handle negotiations with the insurance company, fighting for appropriate settlements.

Choosing the Right Attorney for Car Accidents

Selecting the right attorney is critical for a successful outcome. The attorney should possess experience in car accident claims and have a track record of favorable resolutions.

Factors to consider:

Specialization: Seek attorneys who specialize in car accident law.

Reputation: Look into the attorney’s past client reviews and case outcomes.

Local familiarity: Choose attorneys familiar with local traffic laws and courts.

Mike Agruss Law ticks these boxes, offering expertise in car accidents with free initial consultations to get started.

Coverage and Compensation

When not at fault in a car accident, it is important to understand car insurance coverage and how compensation for damages is determined.

Understanding Your Coverage

Car insurance policies typically include various types of coverage, each designed to protect in different scenarios. When one is not at fault for an accident, two relevant coverages come into play:

Liability Coverage: This is used by the at-fault driver to cover damages they have caused to others. If another driver is at fault, their liability insurance should cover your damages.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM): In cases where the at-fault driver lacks sufficient insurance, your own UM/UIM coverage can compensate for your losses.

It is crucial to review one’s policy to understand the limits and deductibles as they directly impact out-of-pocket expenses.

Calculating Compensation for Damages

The process of calculating compensation is grounded in assessing the extent of damages and losses. Compensation typically covers:

Vehicle Repairs: Costs to repair or replace your vehicle.

Medical Expenses: Any medical bills resulting from the accident.

Lost Wages: Compensation for lost income if the accident impacts the ability to work.

Calculating these costs begins with gathering receipts, quotes for repairs, medical bills, and proof of lost wages. The at-fault party’s insurer should offer a settlement based on these figures. However, disputes over the value of claims can occur, which may require negotiation or legal intervention to resolve.

Steps After an Accident Not at Fault

When one is involved in a car accident and not at fault, certain steps should be followed to ensure the insurance process is smooth. Documentation is crucial. You should immediately collect evidence, including photos of the scene, the vehicles, and any injuries. Exchange information with the other driver; names, contact details, and insurance information are key.

Reporting the accident is a necessary step. You should notify the police to get an official report, which will be indispensable when filing an insurance claim. Even if law enforcement does not respond to the scene, you can go to a local police station to file a report.

After an auto accident, inform your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible. Provided below is a simplified list to follow:

  • Document the accident scene including photos and a written account.
  • Exchange information with the involved parties.
  • Inform your insurance company and start the claim process.
  • Seek medical attention if necessary; this should be documented for the claim.

Follow up is another important step. You should keep records of all conversations with their insurance provider and the other party’s insurer, including dates, times, and the content of discussions. The insurance adjuster will assess the damage to the car, and they may seek multiple repair estimates to confirm costs.

Throughout the process, the individual should keep a detailed record of all related expenses and correspondence. This organized approach ensures that they can present a clear case to the insurance companies involved and facilitates a fair settlement of the insurance claim.

Navigating State-Specific Regulations

Understanding how car insurance works in the event of an accident where you are not at fault varies by state due to differing regulations and laws. In Illinois, for instance, certain rules apply that might differ from those in other states.

Illinois Car Insurance Laws

In Illinois, the insurance of the driver who is found to be at fault is primarily responsible for covering damages. It’s a tort state, meaning the not-at-fault driver can pursue a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance. This can include compensation for vehicle repairs, medical expenses, and other losses.

Minimum Insurance Requirements in Illinois:

Bodily injury liability: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident

Property damage liability: $20,000 per accident

Uninsured motorist bodily injury: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident

Illinois follows a fault-based or “tort” system, which affects how insurance claims are processed and how damages are paid out. Drivers have the option to carry more than the minimum limits for added protection.

When an Illinois driver is not at fault in a collision, they may file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier, known as a third-party claim. They can also file a claim with their insurance company if they have the appropriate coverage, which may be quicker but could involve paying a deductible.

Factors That Can Affect Claims in Illinois:

Comparative negligence: If both drivers are found to be at fault, Illinois’s modified comparative negligence rule may reduce compensation based on the percentage of fault. Recovery is barred if you are found to be 50% or more at fault.

Reporting time: It’s required to report accidents involving injury, death, or property damage over $1,500 to the Illinois Department of Transportation within 10 days.

It is essential for drivers to understand these provisions in Illinois law to effectively navigate the claims process and ensure proper coverage. A Chicago personal injury lawyer can help you do so.

FAQs in Not-at-Fault Accidents

What happens to my insurance if I’m not at fault?

If a driver is not at fault, the at-fault driver’s insurance should cover the damages or injuries. The not-at-fault driver’s insurance company can help file a claim against the at-fault driver’s policy.

Will my insurance rates go up if I’m not at fault?

Typically, insurance rates should not increase if the policyholder is not at fault. However, individual policy details and insurer practices may vary.

Do I need to pay a deductible if I’m not at fault?

Policyholders usually do not have to pay their deductible if they are not at fault, as this should be covered by the at-fault driver’s insurance.

Should I file a claim if the at-fault driver offers to pay out of pocket?

Even if the at-fault driver offers to pay out of pocket, it’s advisable to file a claim to ensure all damages are covered and to protect against potential later disputes.

What should I do after an accident where I’m not at fault?

  1. Ensure everyone’s safety and call emergency services if necessary.
  2. Collect information from all parties involved.
  3. Take photos of the scene and damages.
  4. Contact your insurance provider to report the accident.
  5. Consider filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

Can I choose my own repair shop if I’m not at fault?

Yes, policyholders typically have the right to choose the repair shop for their vehicle, even when another driver is at fault.

How long does a not-at-fault claim take to process?

The time frame can vary depending on the complexity of the accident and the insurance companies involved. It’s important to stay in contact with your insurance adjuster for updates.

Contact Mike Agruss Law for Help With Auto Insurance After a Crash

When involved in an accident where you are not at fault, you typically file a car insurance claim with the at-fault party’s insurer. The process commences with reporting the incident and submitting necessary documentation for review. The other party’s insurance will evaluate the claim, assess vehicle damage, and may cover repair costs, medical expenses, and other related losses.

The not-at-fault party’s insurance may also be involved. If they have collision coverage, their insurer might initially cover repair costs and later seek reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurance, a process known as subrogation. This can expedite repair work but may involve paying a deductible, which should be refunded once the claim is settled.

Victims of an accident should document everything and retain copies of all claim-related paperwork. This includes:

  • A police report, if available
  • Photos of the accident scene and vehicle damage
  • Contact and insurance information of all parties involved
  • Receipts for any out-of-pocket expenses incurred

This attention to detail supports the claim process. Importantly, you should refrain from accepting immediate settlements or admitting fault at the accident scene since this could complicate the claim. Don’t accept any offer before one of our lawyers looks it over.

If and when disagreements arise with an insurance company’s compensation offer, the victim may exercise their right to negotiate or seek legal counsel. Our legal team emphasizes the importance of adequate coverage and understanding one’s policy, ensuring you are protected during unforeseeable events and can navigate post-accident proceedings with confidence.

Contact our team today for a free initial consultation.

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