What to do after a car accident that’s not your fault – Forbes Advisor


Visit the doctor

Car crashes can cause injuries, even at low speeds. The extent of the physical damage you sustain as a result of an accident may not be immediately apparent. A complete medical examination can reveal any problems. This can help you get fast treatment. It also allows you to document injuries in case you need to make a claim against the other driver for compensation.

Understand state laws and insurance coverage

The rules for who is responsible for covering the cost of accident losses may vary by state.

In some jurisdictions, called no-fault states, your own insurer may cover medical expenses and partial loss of wages in cases where the damage caused by an accident is minor. In these states, each driver relies on their own insurer to obtain compensation up to a set limit, such as $10,000, regardless of who caused the accident.

In these states, there is not much difference between what to do after a car accident that is not your fault and one for which you are responsible. However, the at-fault driver can still be held liable for property damage, even in the absence of fault.

In other states, however, the driver who caused the accident is required to provide compensation for property damage, medical expenses, and other losses resulting from injuries such as lost wages and emotional distress.

It’s important to understand which rules are likely to apply to your situation so you know whether you should expect payment to come from your insurer or the at-fault driver’s insurer.

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Contact your own insurance company

Regardless of who has to pay for damages after a car accident, you’ll want to notify your own collision insurance company as soon as possible.

There are several key reasons why you should always report accidents to insurance, even if they seem minor or even if the other driver has admitted fault and agrees to compensate you. Here’s why it’s a good idea to always tell your insurer what happened:

  • Minor accidents can sometimes turn out to cause serious damage. A driver who promised to pay may not have the money to do so
  • Your insurer can help you fight for compensation from the driver’s insurer
  • Your insurer can pay the losses if you live through no fault or if the other motorist has insufficient coverage. If you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, your insurer replaces the at-fault driver if that motorist can’t pay properly.

If you delay informing your own insurer, you could jeopardize your ability to access the protection that the company offers you (you must generally contact them within 24 hours of an accident). This could cause major issues if the responsible party fails to provide proper compensation after the crash.

Consider suing the other driver’s insurance company

In many cases, you are entitled to compensation from the at-fault driver after a car accident. This is the case for all crashes in down states. And this is the case after an accident has caused property damage or serious injury in a no-fault jurisdiction.

The at-fault driver’s insurance company may offer to settle your case. They may agree to provide you with a lump sum payment in exchange for your consent to waive any future claims. But the settlement offer is not always sufficient.

In some cases, you may want to take legal action against the at-fault driver’s insurer. This may be appropriate if the insurer denies liability or wants to pay you too little money given the nature and extent of your damage.

A lawsuit gives you the right to prove losses and have a jury decide if and how much you should be compensated. Remember, however, that regardless of the amount of damages awarded by the jury, the insurer will only pay up to the limits of the policy. If you receive more than the policy’s maximum coverage, you can try to collect directly from the driver, but this may fail.

Have a Lawyer Assess Your Auto Accident Claim

A lawyer can help you understand your rights and get compensation after a car accident. Personal injury lawyers go beyond answering the question, what to do after a car accident that is not your fault. They can help you fight for the money you need to rebuild after being in an accident.

Looking to speak with an accident lawyer? Find one near you

Get your free consultation from a lawyer near you.

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