Do You Have to Pay Your Deductible If the Accident Isn’t Your Fault?
October 7, 2020 | Car Accidents
There are dozens of insurance companies in the U.S. that are available for drivers to buy insurance policies. Every insurance company has its own unique policies and rules about deductibles. If you are involved in an accident that isn’t your fault, you might find yourself wondering who is responsible for paying your insurance claim deductible.
Speaking with your insurance agent or a St. Louis car accident lawyer can provide you with answers about who is responsible for paying your deductible if an accident isn’t your fault, how ‘fault’ is determined in a car accident and what happens if you’ve already paid your deductible for an accident that isn’t your fault.
Who Pays My Deductible if a Car Accident Isn’t My Fault?
Insurance claims can be tricky. If a driver is found to be at-fault for the accident prior to you making an insurance claim with the help of your car accident lawyer, your insurance company will make the at-fault driver pay for your deductible. If a fault has not been determined at the time that you file an insurance claim, your insurer might make you pay for your own deductible upfront.
Once someone has been found at-fault for the accident, your insurance company can reimburse you for the deductible you paid. Your insurance company will then attempt to recover the amount for your deductible from the negligent driver’s insurance company through ‘subrogation.’
If both you and the other driver are found to be at-fault for the accident, the amount that each at-fault driver will pay is determined by their percentage of fault in the accident.
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What Happens If You Can’t Pay Your Car Insurance Deductible?
In most situations, even if you have a full coverage collision, you will have to pay a deductible, which is a specific amount of money you must pay out-of-pocket under your auto insurance policy before your insurance provider will pay any claims.
If you can’t pay the deductible amount after an accident, then you will not be able to take your car to a repair shop. If your car is already at a repair shop, then you must come up with the cash to pay for the repairs. If you can’t borrow the money, then the repair shop can place a “mechanic’s lien” on your vehicle, which means that they can legally retain possession of your car until the debt is paid.
How Do I Prove to My Insurance Company That I’m Not At-Fault for an Accident?
When a car accident occurs, one or both drivers will eventually be found at-fault for the crash. However, you can help prove to your auto insurance company that you’re not at fault by taking pictures with your cell phone, exchanging contact information with the other driver, calling the police, making a police report, talking to witnesses, and retaining an attorney.
This process is the same for all insurance companies. It doesn’t make any difference if you’re with State Farm or Geico.
There are many different reasons why a car accident can happen, but there is usually some type of negligence involved. Common types of negligent driving situations include:
- Speeding and striking another vehicle
- Distracted driving (texting, talking on the phone, changing the radio, etc.) at the time of the crash
- Driving under the influence (drunk, on drugs, etc.)
- Making an improper turn or lane change and causing a crash
- Running a red light or not stopping at a stop sign and hitting another vehicle
I Paid My Deductible But the Accident Wasn’t My Fault, What Should I Do?
One way or another, someone will have to pay for your deductible from an accident. If an accident isn’t your fault but you still paid your deductible on your car insurance policy, you can recover this money by including it in your insurance claim created with a local lawyer.
If the other driver is at-fault for the car accident and you have gathered accurate evidence from the scene of the accident, filed a police report, and obtained a copy of your medical report, you can prove they are at-fault and recover damages from them with a car accident claim settlement.
If they refuse to pay your settlement or do not offer enough of a settlement, your lawyer can negotiate with the other driver’s insurance company to get the most for your case in compensation. If the other driver or their insurance company still won’t budge, you can take them to trial with the help of your car accident lawyer to recover damages.
How Long Does Deductible Recovery Take?
It is easy to recover your deductible after your car was hit by another car if you go about it the right way. Send your insurance company a copy of the police report and the name of the at-fault driver’s insurance company. This will verify all the necessary information and allow the insurance companies to coordinate the details of your deductible.
Do I Pay a Deductible if I Hit a Car?
You do not pay a deductible if you are at fault with respect to repairing the other damaged vehicle. To state another way, you will not pay a deductible if the owner of the other car makes an insurance claim against you. However, you may still have to pay a deductible if you make a claim for the property damage to your own vehicle if you were at fault for the cash.
Do You Pay Your Deductible Before or After Repairs?
While some companies will pay the repair shop directly, others will write you a check so that you can pay for the repairs yourself. In either case, the insurance company will first subtract your deductible and then process your claim.
Do I Have to Pay My Deductible to Fix Someone Else’s Car?
If the owner of the other car makes a claim against you, you do not pay a deductible to fix their car. If the other driver caused the accident, you would not pay a deductible because their insurance company will pay for the damages. However, if you decide to make a claim for damage to your own car, you will likely have to pay a deductible.
How to Get Your Deductible Waived
Your insurance company will waive your deductible if you add a collision damage waiver (CDW) to your insurance policy. Your insurance company will pay the deductible to get the repairs done if you have a CDW.
Why a Police Report Is so Important After a Car Accident
If you can’t get a copy of the police report, or if a police report was not made, your car insurance claim can be more difficult to establish. The police report is a great starting point for the subsequent investigation. Failing to file a police report can result in their being no proof that the car accident caused bodily injury or property damage.
If the other party leaves the accident scene and no records document or witnesses saw what happened, you may have a hard time proving the other party caused the crash. A car accident lawyer can help you.
Different Types of Insurance Claims After a Car Accident
If you are in a motor vehicle accident that takes place in St. Louis, and another driver was at fault for the accident, you might file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
You can do so because the state of Missouri is a fault-based state when it comes to motor vehicle collisions.
In some instances, though, the driver who caused your accident might not have insurance, even though drivers in Missouri are required to carry motor vehicle insurance coverage.
At other times, the at-fault driver might have insurance, but it may not be enough to cover the costs of your medical expenses and other damages. In either of these instances, you may need to turn to your own motor vehicle insurance company if your limits of coverage exceed those of the at-fault driver.
Always carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and pay your premiums so you have the resources to pay for these damages. A knowledgeable St. Louis car accident attorney at Dixon Injury Firm can review the unique circumstances surrounding your car accident with you and will determine if your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage might come into play.
If you can file a claim for uninsured or underinsured motorist benefits, our legal team can assist you throughout the filing process. In addition, if your insurance company refuses to compensate you for the injuries and damages that you incurred in your accident, we can pursue litigation against your insurance company and file a lawsuit naming the insurance company as a defendant. We can then zealously represent you throughout the litigation, and if necessary, in court or during a binding arbitration or mediation proceeding.
Injuries in a Car Accident and the Need for Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Injuries that a person suffers in a car accident can be serious and debilitating. The injuries that a car accident victim suffers will depend upon the circumstances of the accident, how the accident occurred, and the force of the impact between the involved vehicles. Some collisions are so forceful that the airbags in the vehicle will go off. When that happens, the driver and passengers can suffer cuts and lacerations, as well as bruising, from the airbag deployment.
In addition, the force of the collision might cause the accident victim’s body to move forward and backward in the vehicle very quickly. Alternatively, a part of the accident victim’s body might strike the headrest, window, door, steering wheel, or console of the vehicle, bringing about a soft tissue injury, traumatic head injury, or bone fracture.
All of these injuries are likely to require at least some degree of medical treatment following the accident. For example, the accident victim might need to follow up at a hospital emergency room, seek treatment from a primary care doctor, or get treatment from a medical specialist, such as an orthopedic doctor.
In addition, depending upon the extent of the injuries suffered in the car accident, the accident victim may need to attend physical therapy sessions and receive other expensive medical treatment. Finally, the accident victim might need to undergo a surgical procedure, especially if they suffered a broken bone in the accident.
All of this medical treatment can be expensive, and in some instances, the at-fault driver is completely uninsured or does not have adequate insurance coverage to compensate you for your injuries. In addition to compensation for injuries, you may have experienced mental anguish, pain and suffering, and other compensable damages as a result of your injuries in the accident. If the at-fault driver does not have adequate insurance coverage in place to pay you for these damages, your insurance company might pursue an underinsured motorist claim.
A knowledgeable and experienced St. Louis car accident attorney at Dixon Injury Firm can determine if you are eligible to file an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim with your own insurance company. We can then help you throughout the claims-filing process, and if necessary, we can litigate the case to a conclusion on your behalf in the Missouri state court system.
Uninsured Motorist Claims
Motor vehicle operators can cause serious accidents when they violate traffic regulations, such as by speeding, tailgating, failing to use turn signals, and failing to yield the right-of-way at traffic intersections and in other locations when it is appropriate to do so. Drivers can also cause accidents when they are distracted or turn their attention away from the road, even for a second. Finally, motor vehicle drivers can cause serious accidents when they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs while they are behind the wheel of a car.
Although the state of Missouri requires motor vehicle operators to carry minimal insurance, some drivers do not prioritize doing so. Consequently, when they cause a motor vehicle accident, they may not have insurance coverage available to compensate the accident victim for their injuries and other damages.
When that happens, the accident victim can turn to their own insurance company and file a claim for uninsured motorist benefits. The accident victim’s insurance company can then step into the shoes of the at-fault driver and provide the necessary insurance coverage.
An accident victim might also file an uninsured motorist claim in a phantom vehicle accident case. A phantom vehicle accident occurs when a driver causes an accident and then quickly speeds off. Consequently, the accident victim cannot exchange insurance information with the at-fault driver or obtain a license plate number for that driver. When a phantom driver causes a motor vehicle accident in St. Louis, the accident victim, again, might be eligible to file an uninsured motorist claim with their own insurance company, seeking monetary compensation and damages for the injuries they suffered.
Underinsured Motorist Claims
Sometimes, when motor vehicle drivers cause accidents, they are underinsured. In other words, they are not carrying insurance coverage that is sufficient to compensate the accident victim for their injuries and other damages. For example, the accident victim might have suffered a permanent injury that will impact them for the remainder of their life, and the at-fault driver might only be carrying minimal insurance coverage.
When that is the case, and the accident victim has higher coverage limits than the at-fault driver, the accident victim might pursue an underinsured motorist claim with their own insurance company. However, these types of claims are typically only available when the at-fault driver’s insurer first offers up the full policy limits of its available coverage.
The knowledgeable and experienced St. Louis car accident attorneys at Dixon Injury Firm can determine if you’re eligible to file a UIM claim. We can help you obtain the policy limits of coverage from the at-fault driver’s insurance company and turn to your own insurance company for additional monetary compensation.
If your insurance company won’t step in and offer you the compensation that you deserve, we can file a lawsuit and pursue litigation against your insurance company. If necessary, we can resort to the court system to resolve the case.
Why You Need a Lawyer When Filing a UM or UIM Claim
If you file a claim for uninsured or underinsured motorist benefits with your own insurance company, you might assume that your insurance company will cooperate and provide you the benefits you deserve.
However, nothing can be further from the truth. In fact, when you resort to filing an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim with your own insurance company, the insurance company will likely treat you as its worst enemy.
Even though insurance companies are not supposed to retaliate by raising your rates or premiums, they can still be difficult to work with when it comes to settling or litigating an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim. No insurance company—even your own—makes money by paying out damages in a personal injury claim.
Instead, it makes money by collecting premiums from insureds and keeping that money in-house. Consequently, your insurance company may try to pay you as little compensation as possible to resolve your uninsured or underinsured motorist claim.
That is where a knowledgeable and experienced St. Louis car accident attorney at Dixon Injury Firm can step in and help. Our legal team understands how insurance companies undervalue UM/UIM claims.
We can assist you with negotiating a favorable settlement in your uninsured or underinsured motorist claim and will work to get you the claim’s full value. If the insurance company does not budge on its offer, we can litigate the case in the court system, and if necessary, take it to a jury trial.
Documents to Include When Filing a Claim
When you resort to filing an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim, you should include the same types of documentation as you would if you were filing a claim with the liability insurer. Your lawyer can include a settlement demand letter, which makes a monetary demand for settlement compensation.
Along with this demand letter, your attorney can include several important pieces of documentation, such as copies of all pertinent accident-related medical bills and records, police diagrams, witness statements, victim impact statements, and lost wage documentation.
In addition, if you have photographs of your injuries or the accident scene, those photographs can be included as part of your settlement demand package. The insurance company adjuster can then review all of this documentation, and they might make an offer to resolve your UM/UIM case through settlement.
Once your insurance company accepts the uninsured or underinsured motorist claim, your lawyer can begin negotiating a favorable settlement offer on your behalf. If the insurance company will not accept the claim—or if it undervalues the claim—your attorney can resort to the litigation process.
Litigation begins when your lawyer files a lawsuit in the court system naming the insurance company as a defendant. The case will then go through the discovery process, just like with any other personal injury case, and the matter can resolve at any point along the way. If the case does not resolve through the settlement process, the parties may elect to take the case to trial and let the jury decide all of the disputed issues.
As an alternative to a jury trial in the Missouri state court system, your attorney can pursue mediation or arbitration with the insurance company in an attempt to get a fair value for your UM/UIM claim. The knowledgeable St. Louis car accident attorneys at Dixon Injury Firm are just as experienced at the settlement negotiation table as they are in the courtroom. Our legal team will look at the best options for your case and help you decide on the one that best suits your needs.
Recoverable Damages in a St. Louis UM or UIM Claim
The potential damages that an accident victim might recover as part of an uninsured motorist claim are essentially the same as those potentially recovered in a liability claim against the at-fault driver’s insurer. In a UIM claim, your insurance company might argue that you were already fully and fairly compensated in the liability portion of the case. At other times, your insurance company might offer you some additional money, over and above what the liability carrier already offered you.
Potential damages that an accident victim can recover include compensation for medical expenses and lost wages. You can also receive compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of use of a body part, loss of enjoyment of life, permanent disability, and the costs of anticipated future medical procedures, such as surgeries. The skilled St. Louis, Missouri car accident attorneys at Dixon Injury Firm will do everything possible to get you compensated fully and fairly as part of your underinsured or uninsured motorist claim.
Consult a Car Accident Lawyer About an Accident That Isn’t Your Fault
The best advice is to always document a car accident scene. Failure to do so can leave the door open for an at-fault driver to avoid paying medical expenses or the other damages they caused. You may be stuck with medical bills and the cost of repairs for a crash that you did not cause.
Having a car accident lawyer by your side can prevent you from having to assume this responsibility.
They can also ensure you take every necessary step to hold the at-fault driver responsible for paying your insurance deductible.
If you are ready to speak with a personal injury attorney about a car accident that you didn’t cause, contact the Dixon Injury Firm for a free consultation and explore your options.