What happens if I’m at fault for a car crash?

Did you cause an accident were wondering what happens if I’m at fault for a car crash? As a personal injury lawyer, I normally represent people who fault for a car crashwere involved in car crashes but were not at fault for the accident. If you caused a car crash and were wondering what was going to happen, call me at 847-305-4105.

Today I’m going to answer the question of what happens if you caused a car crash.  What is going to happen to you and what you can and cannot recover yourself.

When you cause a crash, you are the “at-fault” party. Theoretically, the victim in the crash will file a claim with your insurance company or he or she might file a lawsuit against you personally.

In this case, you are the “defendant.”  You are defending yourself against the claim of another person.

The first thing that I would recommend doing is telling your own auto insurance company about the crash. Turn it over to State Farm or Farmers Insurance and let them handle it. This is the reason you purchased insurance in the first place.

Obligation to Work with Your Insurance Company

When you signed up for auto insurance, you actually agreed, whether you know it or not, to work with your insurance company in the event you are involved in a car crash.

I don’t normally let my clients give a recorded statement to the third party (other guy’s) insurance company. However, giving a recorded statement to your insurance company will likely be required.

Other things are required as well such as getting your car inspected, providing them pictures, showing up to assist in your defense in case you get sued, and so on.

If you don’t cooperate with your insurance company, they could deny the victim’s claim against you. What would happen in this situation? The victim would likely file a lawsuit against you. They would be left with little choice.

In addition, if you proceed in this course of action, your insurance could drop their coverage of you altogether.

What happens if I’m at fault for a car crash?

What are the practical ramifications of causing an accident? They could include:

  • Increased auto insurance rates. This is what people who call my office are always concerned about.

Bottom line is there is no way around this. Your insurance rates could go up unless you have some sort of accident forgiveness on your policy.

Accidents happen and sometimes there is nothing you can do about it. If you didn’t have auto insurance, you would have been on the hook for much more than you are with insurance.

  • You may have also suffered significant damage to your car as well. If you have collision coverage on your vehicle, you can get the damage to your vehicle fixed as well.

If you don’t have collision coverage – you should get it. If you caused the accident, this insurance will cover the repairs to your own vehicle. Though you will likely have to pay your deductible.

  • I’ve had quite a few people call and ask if they can recover for their pain and suffering if they caused a car crash. Unfortunately, the answer is no.

If you caused the crash, you will not collect anything for your pain and suffering or for your medical bills.

One exception on the medical bills would be if you had medpay coverage. Medpay or medical payments coverage is a cheap way to get your first $2500 or $5000 in medical bills paid (including co-pays and your deductible) regardless of fault for the accident.

  • People also often ask if they can recover for their lost wages if they caused the accident. The short answer is no you cannot. At least in Illinois. However, some people have whats called PIP coverage or Personal Injury Protection. Under PIP plans, you may be entitled to recover for your lost wages regardless of fault.

 

  • Finally, while your car is getting repaired, you will probably need a rental car to get to work or to drive your kids around. Whether your rental car is paid for depends on whether you have rental car coverage in your policy.

My strong suggestion is – check with your auto insurance company before you get in an accident to make sure you have all of the above.

Additional Thoughts on Being a Defendant in a Car Crash Case

A couple other things to know if you caused an accident. Why I’m telling you this I don’t know because it certainly doesn’t help my clients who were the victims in the accident.

First, you may not be 100% at fault for the crash.  A majority of states in this country recognize the concept of “comparative negligence.” This means that there is some fault on the part of both parties to the accident.

In Illinois for example, if you can prove that the other party was more than fifty percent at fault for the accident, that person is barred from recovering.

Another thing to be aware of is being hit with an “excess judgment.”  For example, if you have an Illinois minimum insurance policy of $25,000, that means that your insurance company is only on the hook for the first $25,000 in damages you cause.

But what if the victim suffered huge injuries and as a result, they obtain a verdict against you of $1,000,000? Your insurance is not going to pay that extra $975,000. Unfortunately, chances are you can’t pay it either. As such, chances are you will end of filing bankruptcy.

This is not the norm, however. Most personal injury lawyers are not going to file a lawsuit in a case where there’s $25,000 in insurance proceeds, litigate the case for 18 months, go to trial and then try to collect against someone who likely doesn’t have the ability to pay that amount.

Finally, you might be thinking that you shouldn’t get insurance at all then. About 15% of the people driving on the road in Illinois do not have insurance. Be warned that if you do not get insurance, you can get arrested and charged with a crime. And, you could theoretically get sued and be forced to file bankruptcy to avoid paying the judgement against you.

5 Reasons Why You Should Report Your Accident to Your own Insurance Company

Skokie Auto AccidentIf retained to represent you in a Skokie auto accident case, I will give you 5 reasons why you should report your accident to your own insurance company. Call today at 847-305-4105 for more information on this topic or continue reading.

Many Skokie auto accident victims have told me that they do not want to file a claim with their own auto insurance company after an accident as they are afraid their own rates are going to go up.

A rate increase is a possibility regardless of fault. However, I have found that the vast majority of clients involved in accidents where they were not at fault did not have their rates increased. In fact, I can’t think of a single one who reported an increase to me. Doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, I’m just not aware of it.

Am I Required to Report the Accident by Law?

In the state of Illinois there is no law that requires that you report a Skokie auto accident to your auto insurance company. However, you are required to report the accident to the Illinois Department of Transportation within ten days if your accident meets certain requirements (link).

Then why report your accident?

5 Reasons Why You Should Report Your Accident to Your own Insurance Company 

  1. Contract Law

When you signed up for auto insurance you signed a contract with Allstate or State Farm or whoever you signed up with. Your auto insurance contract may require you to report any accident you are involved in to your insurance company. If you do not and your insurance company finds out about your Skokie auto accident, they could cancel your insurance policy.

  1. Medpay Insurance

Many auto insurance policies contain “medpay” or medical payments coverage. Medpay is something you can add to an auto policy and it will pay for the first $2,500 or $5,000 (or whatever you purchased) in medical expenses. Medpay has many advantages as there are no co-pays, no deductibles and you can get it regardless of fault.

You don’t necessarily have to file a claim with your auto insurance company to find out if you have medpay. Just call them up and ask whether you have it or not. If you do and you’ve got medical bills to pay, it may be a good idea to file a claim with your own insurance company, even if you were not at fault for the accident.

  1. Uninsured and Underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM)

I have talked at length on this website about how many Illinois drivers do not have any auto insurance. In addition, a huge number of people who do have insurance only have the minimum insurance required by the state of Illinois.

If you are involved in a serious Skokie auto accident, the minimum limits of $25,000 are not going to cover your medical bills let alone compensate you for your pain and suffering.

As such, many people purchase UM/UIM of at least $100,000. That way, if you get hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver, you can go after your own auto insurance policy for compensation.

Again, you don’t have to file necessarily to find out how much insurance you have. If the driver who hit you has a minimum policy and you do too, there may be no reason to file. Call us at 847-305-4105 to discuss what you should do if you are faced with this situation.

  1. Collision coverage

After your accident, the auto insurance for the driver who hit you may need to investigate the accident before paying for your property damage. To “accept liability” or responsibility for the accident they may have to wait to see the police report. That can cause serious delays and most people need to get the car back quickly.

As such, if you have collision coverage on your vehicle, your own auto insurance company can inspect your vehicle and pay for the repairs. This will occur much quicker than using the third party’s insurance.

The downside is that you will have to pay your deductible. However, you should get it back. If you are not at fault for the accident, your own insurance company will “subrogate” against the defendant’s insurance company to get reimbursed for the money it cost to get your car fixed. You should get your deductible back when subrogation is completed.

  1. Time limit

Within your own auto insurance policy, there may be a time limit within which you have to report an accident. If you do not file within the specified time limit, your insurance company could deny your claim.

It’s not that far fetched. I have seen a couple cases usually involving sub-standard auto insurance carriers where an accident victim missed a timeline and consequently their claim was denied.

So these were the top 5 Reasons Why You Should Report Your Accident to Your own Insurance Company. But there are other reasons as well. If you would like a free consultation on this or any other legal topic, please feel free to reach out to me at 847-305-4105. If I can’t help you, I’ll find someone who can.

Illinois Accident Lawyer – Property damage attorney

Call Illinois accident lawyer Barry Zlotowicz of the Chicago Legal Group today at 847-305-4105 if you are searching for a property damage attorney. We have handled countless property damage claims on behalf of victims of automobile, motorcycle, bicycle and other accidents.

What type of property damage can you recover for?

If you are involved in an auto or other motor vehicle accident, you likely suffered some form of property damage. That could include damage to your vehicle, damage to personal items like your iPhone or GPS, and you will also be forced to pay for a replacement vehicle while your vehicle is being repaired. To obtain help, call an Illinois Accident Lawyer today or continue reading below.

The most common claim is for the damage to your vehicle. Each type of accident is different and raises a different type of issue. If you were hit in your car, there might be damage to your bumper that can’t be seen by an auto insurance appraiser without taking the bumper off. Perhaps you got hit on a $5,000.00 road bicycle. If the bike has a carbon fiber frame, it may require an x-ray to determine if it is cracked. If you were on a motorcycle, you may have many aftermarket parts on the bike. As a property damage attorney, I have seen nearly every issue that can arise.

Common property damage issues

How do you prove your property damage? In a word, documentation. Check out my blog on this topic or check out my YouTube page LawFull for more information on documentation. But in short, obtain photographs of all the property damage as soon as possible. If you are seeking reimbursement for a phone, a pair of riding pants or a leather jacket, find your receipts for the items or provide your Illinois accident lawyer links on Amazon.com or another site so that you can establish the value of your damaged property.

How many estimates do you have to obtain?

In Illinois, there is no specific law regarding how many estimates you have to obtain. It may behoove you to obtain more than one, however. Insurance companies often require more than one and it is not worth fighting them about it. You may not have to get an estimate at all as the auto insurance company may send an appraiser out to inspect your vehicle.

Can I choose where I get my vehicle fixed?

In short, yes you can. However, it may be a good idea to work with the insurance company to get your vehicle fixed with one of their contracted/approved shops. The reason being is that the insurance company will come up with an estimated value of your vehicle. If you take your vehicle to a different shop, the insurance company might refuse to pay more than their own appraiser’s estimate. That could lead to a dispute which may have to be settled in court.

Rental Car and Loss of Use

You are entitled to a rental car for a certain period of time. I’ve had insurance companies come down on all sides of this issue. Some give you a car of comparable quality to the car you were driving. Others pay for a compact. There are also limitations on the amount of time you can be in a rental car. If the insurance adjuster is pressuring you on this, ask them to prove to you that there are limits and/or restrictions on rental car compensation in their insured’s auto policy.

You may also be able to recover from the loss of use of your vehicle. In short, if you have a motorcycle and you can’t ride it for 30 days because of the damage to the vehicle, you can try to seek compensation for that. Insurance companies will frequently pay you the amount it would have cost for you to rent a car during that time period.

Diminished Value

I’ve had clients who were hit shortly after they purchased their cars. There is no Illinois law that dictates that an insurance company has to pay you for the diminished value of your vehicle. However, it’s worth the effort to try and recover for diminished value. You do so through, once again, documentation. You need an expert to document that the value of the car as it sits after being repaired is less than a comparable car that has not been in an accident.

Why Won’t an Illinois Accident Lawyer take my case?

Illinois accident lawyers are compensated for recovering from an injured person’s medical bills, pain, and suffering, lost wages, loss of enjoyment etc. I do not and never will take money from my clients’ property damage settlements. As a result, if a case only involves property damage, there’s not a lot an accident lawyer can do for you.

If you are involved in a property damage only accident, you may have to file in small claims court on your own and/or settle your dispute with the insurance company. If that’s the case, feel free to contact me to discuss your case. I’m happy to be a resource for you.

Should I use my own insurance to pay for my property damage?

I always recommend my clients use their own insurance company to pay for their property damage if they have collision coverage. Yes, you will have to front your deductible. But you will probably get it back (depending on a few factors). This is the quickest way for you to get your car back quickly and set you on the course to returning to your pre-accident status.

Your auto insurance company will then “subrogate” or go after the other insurance company on your behalf, to recover for the costs to your vehicle. Your insurance rates should not increase just because you used your own insurance unless you were at fault for the accident.

Comparative negligence

In Illinois, an accident victim can still recover their damages even if they are partially at fault for the accident. The concept is called comparative negligence. Often an insurance company will try and place a small percentage of fault on you for the accident even if it is not warranted. You are not obligated to accept this if you do not want to. However, be aware that if you do accept partial fault, that your recovery for your property damage will be reduced by your percentage of fault.

Thank you for reading my Illinois Accident Lawyer blog article on property damage. If you would like a free consultation on this or any other injury-related issue, please feel free to contact me at 847-305-4105.