Few things are as frustrating as being in a car accident and having problems getting compensated for it. This is especially true if you’re not at fault, but still being denied by the other driver’s insurer. If you face a situation like this right now, it’s imperative that you know your rights as a driver. The list that follows gives you some ideas of what your rights might be.
1. Right to Have a Claim Investigated
According to Insure.com, it’s illegal in most states for an insurance company to summarily deny a collision claim without at least investigating the facts. However, there are some gray areas, which can cause motorists problems. If you’re in an accident, you must be able to reasonably prove that the liability lies with the other party (if it does). In an accident that has caused you serious injury, you can and should take the issue up with the other motorist’s insurance company first.
2. The Right to Get an Attorney’s Help
If you’re having trouble with an at-fault auto insurance claim, you have the right to hire an attorney to help you. For example, you’ll want to get a lawyer if you’re hit by a drunk driver and injured. According to the Gelman Gelman Wiskow & McCarthy law firm, the trick to getting compensation after a serious accident is to be able to prove negligence. It’s likely that you won’t have the kind of resources you need to prove this on your own. An attorney has resources like investigators that can help your case.
3. Know Your Statute of Limitations
Some states have a statute of limitations. For example, in New Jersey the time frame is two years. If you’re on the fence about whether to contact an attorney err on the side of caution and contact one. You can always decide to drop it later. However, if you decide to file a claim or to sue after your statute of limitations is up, there is little your attorney can do for you.
4. Ask Your Insurance Company for Help
When all else fails, you can ask your insurance company for financial help, at least until you can get the matter settled. Oftentimes, your insurance rates won’t go up if you have to file a claim on an accident that you didn’t cause. However, it’s important that you keep track of all that transpires financially. You or your insurance company may be able to get some money back from the other motorist’s insurance company eventually. That said, getting money from your insurance company will help offset the costs of the repairs and other issues until you can get things squared away.
Finally, it’s important for you to know in light of this what kind of coverage your state requires. For example, some states require drivers to carry personal injury protection insurance (PIP), which will pay for lost wages and medical bills. It’s especially critical to understand the differences between no-fault and at-fault accidents. More specifically, it’s important to understand what your state laws require for each circumstance. Otherwise, you may find out only after your accident that you don’t have the right kind of insurance coverage.
Not knowing your rights after a car accident means that you can be denied money you’re owed. It can also mean that you might fall between the cracks if you’re not careful. If you’ve had an accident, you need to know your rights and then take action on what you learn before it’s too late.
Author Info: Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake. You can find her on Twitter.