If your car was involved in an accident, but you were not driving at the time, there are several steps you need to take.
Here they are:
1. Determine Whether Any of the Occupants of Your Car Were Injured
If anyone inside your car was injured, you may play a very important role in helping them recover from their injuries. Much of your aid will come through your available insurance coverage. For example, if you have "medical payment" insurance coverage at the time of the accident, this coverage will provide insurance payments for medical expenses incurred for occupants of your car following an accident, up to the available insurance limits. Coverage for these payments is provided regardless who is at fault. Passengers in your car may also be able to recover damages from either your insurance company or the insurance company of one of the drivers of the vehicles involved in the accident. Your insurance coverage may be the only source of compensation for serious injuries suffered by those in your car. Make sure everyone knows the insurance coverage available to them.
2. Immediately after the Accident Call Your Insurance Company, Report the Accident, and Set Up a Claim
You have a duty to report the accident to your insurance company and provide a complete and accurate description of how the accident occurred. If you do not have the information as to how the accident happened, make sure you find out this information from the driver of your car or any occupants within your car. It is possible, the driver of your car was not at fault, or was only partially at fault. This information is extremely important to know because it will affect your liability for injuries to others as well as how you may be able to get your car repaired or replaced.
There are other issues involved. The insurance adjuster will want to know if the person driving your car had your permission to do so. If there was no permission given, either express permission or implied permission, then there will be no insurance coverage from your insurance company to protect the driver from any claims made. If there was permission, then the focus is on whether the use of the car was for the benefit of the driver alone, or whether it was for your benefit, or on your errand.
Finally, if you have collision or comprehensive insurance coverage, ask your insurance company to pay for the repairs to your car. Also, if you have rental coverage, you can rent a replacement car while yours is being repaired. The insurance company will pay for the rental expenses, up to its applicable policy limits or during the time of the repairs, whichever is less. Exceptions do apply, so make sure you know exactly what types of coverage you have paid for.
3. Find Out if the Driver of Your Car Had His or Her Own Insurance Coverage, then Submit a Claim for the Damages to Your Car
Many times, a car is lent to a relative, friend or neighbor. These individuals may have their own insurance coverage for another vehicle. Many times, this insurance coverage is transferrable to whatever car is being driven and may be applicable to the accident with your car. The driver’s insurance coverage will normally be primarily responsible for covering the accident, while your insurance provides a second layer of insurance coverage. In this situation where the driver has his/her own insurance coverage, you are afforded additional protection from the damage claims of the injured person(s) as a result of the accident.
4. Evaluate the Amount of Your Insurance Coverage Available to You to Protect Your Assets as a Result of the Negligence of the Driver of Your Car
All too often we don’t think about our insurance coverage until after an accident. Make sure you cover yourself with insurance protection for as many situations as possible. For example, if someone that lives with you, but is not listed as a driver on your insurance policy, ask your insurance agent if your insurance coverage will protect you if that person borrows your car. Next, make sure you have enough insurance coverage (limits of liability) to protect you and your assets from claims made by injury victims if your car is in an accident. That amount of insurance coverage necessary will vary by individual, the assets of that person and earnings they have or may have. The general rule is that the more assets or earnings you have, the higher policy limits you will want. However, even if you do not have a lot of assets, it is best to purchase the highest insurance policy limits you can afford, especially, high uninsured motorist coverage limits.
5. Be Truthful in Everything You Do
You would think this rule should go without saying. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. In fact, there are insurance adjusters and lawyers that encourage their insureds or clients to not tell all the truth. Don’t fall into that trip. To lie to protect the insurance company from having to pay what is fair, is never worth the guilt later on. Consider how you would feel if the roles were reversed and you were injured, but the responsible party lied to avoid paying you what you deserve. The entire legal system is built upon the integrity of the individuals. If we lose our integrity over money, we lose our freedoms and rights.
6. Ask Your Insurance Company if You Will Need to Hire Your Own Lawyer and Whether the Insurance Coverage Will Provide You the Full Protection You Need for the Claim
In most instances, the insurance company will hire a lawyer on your behalf to defend a claim which the insurance company has failed to resolve prior to an injured party filing a lawsuit. Sometimes your insurance policy limits are not sufficient to cover all the damages suffered by an injured person. In these situations, you will need to have your own lawyer to put pressure on the insurance company to try and resolve the claim within the insurance policy limit available to you. You want to minimize the possible exposure to a judgment in excess of the insurance policy limits protecting you from this claim.
Our Car Accident Attorneys Will Fight for Your Legal Rights in Situations Just Like This One
If you need additional information or direction on what to do following an accident, please contact the Inland Empire Law Group to see if we can provide you with the assistance you need. Our office primarily represents injury victims and their families. However, we do not want to see anyone needlessly suffer financially following an accident. When someone is not adequately protected by insurance, you should seek legal advice from a law firm such as the Inland Empire Law Group. With offices in Rancho Cucamonga and Victorville, we serve the entire High Desert and Inland Empire regions. Please call 909-481-0100 to learn more.