Most people have a handful of questions after being involved in a car accident. Some of the most frequently asked questions are listed below. If you have a question that is not answered here, please call us at your earliest convenience for a free case consultation.
What Is My Case Worth?
One of the most common questions that people have after an accident is what the value of their case may be. Without meeting with you and learning more about the specifics of your case, this can be hard to answer. Assuming that you were not in any way at fault for the accident, then you may surmise that your case is worth the total value of the losses that you have suffered. This includes the value of your medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and even your pain and suffering.
Who Is Going to Pay for My Medical Bills?
The answer to this question depends upon who was at fault for the accident, whether the at-fault driver had insurance, and what that insurance policy amount is. Because Arizona is a traditional tort insurance state, the insurance of the at-fault driver is responsible for paying for medical expenses. If the other driver is uninsured or underinsured and does not have a high enough policy limit to cover the full extent of your injuries, or if you were at fault or partially at fault for the accident, and if you have uninsured/underinsured coverage or/and MedPay coverage as part of your own policy, then your own insurance may pay for your medical expenses. MedPay coverage is designed to pay for your medical expenses after a car accident even if you were at fault for the accident.
How Do I Get My Car Fixed after an Accident?
If the other driver was at fault for the accident, then you will file a claim with that driver’s insurance company (your insurance company can do this on your behalf). In a car accident, the at fault driver’s property damage liability insurance is responsible for paying for repairs to your car. Make sure you consult with the insurance company before seeking repairs, as they may require that you go to a certain auto body shop, and the insurance adjuster will likely want to see the damage in person before repairs are performed.
Also keep in mind that you will have to prove that the other driver was at fault in order to have the repairs covered under that driver’s liability coverage. Also keep in mind that the insurance company will only pay up to the policy limit; if your car is totalled and the other driver’s policy limit is worth less than the value of your vehicle, you may be forced to pay for repairs/replacement costs out of pocket. An attorney can guide you through your options to reduce your chances of having to spend your own money on repairs.
If you were the driver who was at fault for the accident, then your own property damage liability coverage will not cover damage to your own vehicle. In order to seek compensation for property damage to your own car from your own insurance company, you must carry collision coverage as part of your auto policy.
What If the Other Driver Is from Out-of-State?
If the other driver is from out of state, you still have the right to recover compensation if he or she was at fault. Luckily, many insurance companies operate in multiple states or nationwide, which can make filing a claim straightforward even if the driver returns back home. If the driver was driving a rental car at the time of the accident, you may be able to seek damages from both the driver’s own personal insurance policy and the rental car insurance policy.
Do I Have to Accept an Insurance Settlement Offer?
Many people assume that if the insurance company offers them a settlement offer, they either have to accept it, or believe that accepting it is within their best interest. However, this belief if false; you should never accept a first settlement offer, nor believe that you cannot receive a higher compensation amount.
It is important to remember that car insurance companies are for-profit businesses; an insurance adjuster will do whatever it takes to pay you as little money as possible. Even if you think that an insurance settlement offer looks fair, chances are it is way less than your claim is actually worth. Before you accept a settlement offer, have your attorney look it over – in most cases, you can negotiate for a higher offer.
Should I Report the Accident to the Police?
You are not legally obligated to report a property damage accident to the police unless injury or death of a party also occurs. However, while there may be no legal requirement, reporting an accident to the police–even if it is minor–is within your best interest. If you do not report the accident to the policy, you may not be able to recover compensation for damages to your vehicle. What is more, some injuries do not set in immediately. If you later are diagnosed with an injury related to the crash, but did not report it to the police, you may be out of luck when it comes to filing a claim and recovering compensation.
Police reports can also be great evidence during the recovery process. For all of these reasons, you should always report a car accident to the police. If you are not injured, you may call the non-emergency police.
If I Was Not Wearing a Seatbelt, Can I Still Recover Compensation?
Arizona is a secondary enforcement state with the exception of children under eight years old. This means that while not wearing a seatbelt is against the law, it is not considered to be a primary offense, and you cannot be pulled over for not being buckled alone, according to an Arizona State Senate Issue Brief.
That being said, if you were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of your crash, it may indeed affect your compensation amount. Under Arizona’s comparative negligence laws, a plaintiff’s damages amount may be reduced in proportion to that plaintiff’s degree of fault. Therefore, if the defense can prove that your injuries would not have occurred but for your lack of seatbelt use, then it is highly likely that your compensation amount will be reduced.
On the other hand, if your lack of a seatbelt in no way contributed to your injuries (which would be a very hard thing to prove), then you would still be entitled to your full compensation amount assuming the other driver was 100 percent at fault for the occurrence of the accident.
Who Will Pay for Injuries to My Passengers?
The at fault driver’s insurance company is responsible for paying for damages to all parties who are injured in an accident under the driver’s bodily injury liability coverage. If you have MedPay coverage as part of your own policy, then this coverage will pay for the medical expenses of both you and your passengers regardless of who was at fault.
If I Was At Fault, Who Pays for My Injuries?
If you were at fault for your car accident and if you have been injured, then knowing how you will pay–or who will pay–for your injuries can be very confusing. Unfortunately, your own bodily injury liability coverage is designed to pay for injuries to other in accidents that you cause, but is not intended to coverage your own injuries.
If you were at fault, then, hopefully you have medical payments coverage, or MedPay coverage, as part of your own insurance policy. This type of insurance is not required in the state of Arizona, but will pay for your medical expenses (up to $5,000) if you were at fault for an accident.
If you do not have MedPay coverage and you were to blame for your accident, you may be forced to pay for your medical expenses out of pocket. An attorney can help you to explore other ways of recovering compensation when this is the scenario that you are in.
Should I File a Lawsuit?
Finally, because Arizona is a traditional tort car insurance state, you may be wondering whether or not you should file a claim with your insurance company, or file a lawsuit. Both have advantages and disadvantages, and the route that is best is dependent upon your unique situation. Before you make the decision to do either, it is highly recommended that you consult with an experienced Phoenix car accident attorney.