Generally, automobile liability cases result from automobile accidents where one party sues another for liability, which may or may not be covered by an insurance policy. This can be a very upsetting and the process to recover your losses does not make the accident any easier. Dealing with insurance companies can be very confusing when you are unfamiliar with the terms they use and the value of your case. Most automobile accident cases are handled by personal injury lawyers who have experience dealing with insurance companies and their attorneys.
The Role of Insurance in Automobile Accident Compensation
Insurance plays a major role in automobile liability. Most states require drivers to carry auto insurance. Requiring drivers to carry insurance assures that a good part of that cost will be paid by private economy, rather than burdening the state. When an insured person is involved in an automobile accident, it is often the insurance company, rather than the individual at fault that is primarily involved in the compensation proceedings. For this reason, the insurance companies become immediately involved in auto accident and they have an interest in settling the claims for the smallest amounts possible.
The maximum amount that an insurance company will pay depends on the coverage purchased by the insured. Insurance laws and practices, including coverage minimums and no-fault insurance, vary greatly from state to state.
No Fault Insurance
About half of the states incorporate some version of no-fault insurance into their insurance laws. Under strict no-fault liability, each party is barred from suing any other party for damages, presumably because all of their damages would be covered by their own policies.
States that include elements of no-fault liability in their insurance practices include: Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington.
Compensation and Elements of Liability
You are legally entitled to be compensated for injury or loss you incur in an automobile accident caused by the fault of another. While many cases are settled directly with insurance companies, many other cases are resolved within the court system under a negligence theory.
Determining Fault in Automobile Accidents
If an automobile accident case is brought to court, fault will be determined by the court. Each side will present the facts of the case and the judge or jury will weigh those facts, make factual findings and determine fault.
Factual findings will be based on party statements, depositions, and testimony, on witness statements, depositions and testimony, on police testimony or reports, on expert testimony, on physical evidence and on demonstrative evidence.
What Should I Do If I Have Been in an Auto Accident and Would Like to Sue?
- Report your accident to your insurance company right away
- Obtain information regarding the insurance companies of the other parties
- Do not agree to a settlement right away
- Consult an attorney before agreeing to a settlement
- Seek and document medical treatment and repairs
- Allow your legal representative to negotiate with the other party's insurance company
- Contact the DMV, if necessary
- Make notes about the accident
- Consider hiring an attorney. You may not have to pay them up front and they will take care of all of the legal details of your situation.
When you know the true value of your case (after your medical needs and other financial damages are clear) negotiate or have your lawyer negotiate with the insurance company to be compensated for your injuries.
Should I Hire an Attorney for My Automobile Liability Issue?
If you have been in an automobile accident and are considering filing a lawsuit, or have been sued in relation to an accident, a personal injury attorney can help you evaluate your case. He or she can help you work with insurers, reach a settlement, or go to trial.