Getting into a car accident has both physical and financial implications.
Many people are unsure of how they want to handle their claims. They are often worried about things like their insurance premiums going up.
With that in mind, here are answers to a few of the common questions about whether drivers should file an insurance claim or handle things with the other driver.
The Other Driver Was Nice. Should I Just Deal With Them?
That depends on several factors, including the following:
Were either you or the other driver injured?
If so, do not work with the other driver to settle the claim without the insurance companies. You should work through the normal process instead.
How much damage was done to your vehicles?
If it was more than $500, you must file an accident report with the Kentucky State Police (KSP) anyway, so your insurance company will become aware of the accident eventually.
This means the only real accidents you can handle outside of the traditional process are accidents such as a small parking lot bump with just a scratch or two. But even a minor fender-bender will likely have more than $500 in damage to one or both of your vehicles.
What is the Downside of Dealing with Other Drivers Directly?
As mentioned, if you have more than $500 in damage, the KSP will need to file an accident report, so your insurance company will be alerted in this scenario anyway.
At that point, trying to pay for damages out of your own pocket or asking the other driver to send you a check for the repairs is both risky and puts you at a disadvantage. What if your medical bills are higher than you anticipated, or what if the other driver decides not to pay? Are you willing to take that risk?
Will My Insurance Premium Go Up If I File a Claim?
If you were not at fault for the accident, your insurance rates may not change at all. Whether they do will depend on the type of accident you were in if you were to blame, and the insurance company you have.
If this is a serious concern for you, I recommend that you call your insurance company and find out before you ever even get into an accident. You may be able to shop around and go with a carrier that has either a rate guarantee or accident forgiveness.
Is My Insurance Company Going to Pay for my Damages or the Other Driver’s?
In Kentucky, each driver is required to have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance.
This insurance is supposed to pay for your medical bills, lost wages, and any damage to your vehicle after an accident. In most cases, your insurance policy will pay regardless of who was at fault for the wreck.
However, if the damages were $1,000 or more, you have an opportunity to file a lawsuit against the other driver and his or her insurance company. This is not something you want to do without the help of an experienced attorney, so if you want to pursue this option, call and schedule a free consultation with my office.
If I Start by Working with the Other Drive and Later Change My Mind, What Do I Do?
As a car accident lawyer, I recommend that you handle the situation correctly from the beginning.
Call the KSP, file an accident report, exchange information, go to the ER, call your insurance, and call an attorney. Doing so will ensure that all your options for recourse are available to you. Otherwise, you could run the risk of running into the statute of limitations or having doubt shed on the validity of your claim due to your failure to either file a report or notify the insurance company.
Dealing with the other driver directly is a risky move.
Contact Us Today to Discuss Your Case
At Harville Law, we have extensive experience in car accident cases. If you are unsure about filing a claim, meet with us during a free consultation. We can offer advice on whether or not to file.