Do you know what to do if you ever get into a traffic incident? For example, if someone rear-ends you, whose insurance do you call? Is it your insurer or that of the motorist who crashed into you?
You want to know the answer to those questions, considering that 1.7 million rear-enders occur in the U.S. yearly. While not all cause injuries, many do and, at the very least, cause significant property damage.
This guide outlines what you need to know about filing an insurance claim for a rear-end crash, so read on.
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If Someone Rear-Ends You, Whose Insurance Do You Call?
You should call your insurance provider immediately following a rear-end collision. You must do this regardless of your state’s auto insurance laws (no-fault vs. at-fault laws).
No-fault states require all motorists to carry personal injury protection (PIP). Drivers injured in vehicle collisions must then first use their PIP coverage.
Suppose you live in a no-fault state like Florida or New York. If the rear-end crash injured you, your PIP will help pay for your medical expenses, no matter who’s at fault. However, you must file a claim with your PIP insurance company for this coverage to kick in.
If you live in an at-fault state, say, Georgia, the at-fault driver would have to compensate you. This doesn’t mean you should call their insurer, although they might call you. Instead, you must contact your insurer to inform them of what happened.
Even if you have to file a third-party claim, your insurer will still be a valuable source of information. They can help you start your claim process and talk to the other insurer on your behalf.
Also, please remember you’re not legally required to talk to the other driver’s insurer. So, if they call you, ask them to contact your insurance provider instead. Better yet, have them speak to your car accident lawyer.
Reasons to Avoid Speaking With the Other Driver’s Insurer
As a business, a car insurance company’s primary goal is to make as much profit as possible. Sometimes, this may entail paying out claimants as little money as possible. For example, they may use bad-faith tactics, such as undervaluing a claim.
With an undervalued claim, the other driver’s insurer may offer to pay you a settlement amount. However, it’ll be much lower than your claim’s actual value.
A third-party insurer may undervalue your claim by alleging that you were partly at fault. For instance, they may say you drove distractedly and suddenly put on the brakes. They may then argue that this is partly why their client (the other driver) rear-ended you.
Also, if you speak with a third-party insurer, you may inadvertently say that, overall, you feel fine. They may use this statement to allege you’re not as severely injured and, thus, don’t need a higher payout.
The worst scenario is the insurer denying your claim because of something you may have said.
When Should You Talk to a Third-Party Insurer?
You may have to do this if the at-fault driver has refused to speak with their insurer. They may be doing this as they fear their premiums will significantly increase. And it will, since, on average, full coverage premiums increase by 42% after an at-fault incident.
That said, speaking with the third-party insurance company may already be necessary. Otherwise, they may still be unaware of what happened to you during the rear-end accident. They may also not know how extensive your injuries are or the property damage you incurred.
If you don’t talk to the other driver’s insurer, you may be unable to recover any settlement.
However, please avoid speaking with the other driver’s insurer by yourself. Instead, request your insurance company to talk with the other provider.
Should You Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?
You’re not legally required to hire a car accident lawyer for insurance negotiations. However, doing so can simplify the process of filing a claim or, if needed, pursuing a lawsuit. Plus, with a lawyer, you can focus on your health and recovery while they handle your case’s legal aspects.
Please note, though, that hiring a lawyer doesn’t guarantee your claim’s success. Still, having one on your side can raise your chances of achieving the best possible outcome. Here’s how.
Prove the Other Driver’s Negligence
Your attorney will investigate your rear-end crash by collecting evidence like camera footage. This may come from traffic cameras and your vehicle’s dash and rear cams. CCTV footage from businesses may have also captured the crash.
Your lawyer will reach out to potential witnesses who may have recorded the crash, too. They’ll also talk to the police who handled the incident and request copies of police reports.
The doctors who treated your injuries are other valuable sources of information. Your attorney will ask for their diagnosis and prognosis. This will help them calculate your past and future health and medical expenses.
All these will help establish the negligence of the driver who rear-ended you. Moreover, they can help your lawyer establish your lack of fault. This is vital if the third-party insurer is claiming you were also negligent.
Protect You From Bad Faith Tactics
Once you hire a car accident lawyer, all communications will happen through them. This includes speaking and negotiating with the involved insurance companies.
As the insurers will deal with your lawyer, you’ll be less likely to fall victim to their bad-faith tactics. You may still have to speak with them, but you can worry less since your attorney will always be present.
Avoid Handling Accident Insurance Negotiations Alone
As you learned in this guide, the answer to “If someone rear-ends you, whose insurance do you call,” is your insurer. The same goes for any collision, regardless of who’s at fault.
Then, after talking to your insurance provider, your next call should be to a car accident lawyer. With an attorney on your side, you won’t have to deal with insurers alone. Instead, you can focus on healing and recovering from your injuries.
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