While lawyers and judges are the ultimate legal experts, of course, I believe that every citizen should take the time to learn a little about law for several reasons. First, it is important to know your rights, and knowing them can come in handy if anyone ever accuses you of a crime you didn't commit or threatens you legally in another other way. Second, learning about your local, state, and federal laws can help you act as a better citizen. When election time comes around, you can then truly understand ever change in law being proposed by a candidate and whether it benefits society or not. I plan to share posts about law topics explained in plain English on my new blog, so you can come back often to sharpen your legal knowledge!
If you've been in a car accident that wasn't your fault, you probably have a lot of questions, especially if you've been injured or if there is severe damage to your car. These five must-know facts can help you during this difficult time, so you know what to expect from insurance, a lawyer and the other driver.
Your Insurance Premiums May Still Increase
Even when you don't cause the accident, you may see an increase in your monthly premiums. This may not seem fair, but insurance companies use statistics to support this decision. They have concluded that drivers who get into one accident are more likely to get into another. Some states prohibit the rate increase for drivers who are not at fault, and some insurance companies offer accident forgiveness, which promises not to raise your premiums after your first accident. If the other driver doesn't have auto insurance, you can almost definitely expect a premium increase. Your insurance company will cover your damages, but to offset the cost, they increase your premiums.
If Your Car Is Totaled, You May Not Get Enough to Replace It
If you get into an accident, and the insurance company determines your car is totaled, they won't pay for repairs. Instead, they'll pay you the value of your car. Unfortunately, new cars lose value fast in those first years, so the amount your car is worth is probably less than you owe. For example, if you still owe $25,000 on your car, but it's only worth $16,000, the insurance company will give you $16,000, not $25,000. Therefore, you still owe $9000 on a totaled car and need to go buy a new one. You can protect yourself from this by purchasing additional coverage, such as GAP insurance.
If You're Injured, A Lawyer Is Your Best Bet
If you've been injured, you should hire a lawyer. Whether you sue or settle out of court, a lawyer can get you the amount you deserve from the insurance provider. A lawyer can also get you a settlement that includes pain and suffering. These type of damages are difficult to prove because it doesn't just include physical pain; it also includes emotional pain, which is more subjective and difficult to see. Emotional pain can include fear, insomnia, worry and even the loss of enjoyment of life.
The Insurance Company Won't Pay More Than the Maximum Payout
No matter how hard your lawyer fights for you, the insurance company won't give you more than the maximum payout. The maximum payout varies and depends on the type of insurance coverage the other driver has. If you and your lawyer feel the maximum payout isn't enough, you'll have to sue the driver for additional compensation.
Sometimes a Lawsuit Isn't Worth It
Even if you deserve more money, a lawsuit doesn't guarantee you'll get it. If the driver at fault is wealthy or has a lot of assets and can legitimately afford the money you deserve, a lawsuit may be a good idea. However, in most cases, the person at fault doesn't have much money. In this case, unable to make the payments, the other driver will file for bankruptcy, which will mostly likely wipe out most or all of the debt.
Car accidents affect you in so many ways, especially big accidents that cause serious injury and damages. If you need help after a car accident that wasn't your fault, contact a lawyer. They can help you fight with the insurance company or even file a lawsuit if necessary. Don't wait. Call a personal injury attorney in your area today to schedule a consultation.