Did you cause a car crash and wondered what happens if I’m at fault for a car accident? I am Chicago personal injury lawyer Barry Zlotowicz. Welcome to the LawFull Channel.
As a personal injury attorney, I normally do videos on what happens if you’re not at fault for a car accident. Today though I’m going to answer the question of what happens if you caused an accident. What is going to happen to you and what can you recover and what can’t you?
If you caused the accident, you are the “at-fault” party and when the injured party files a claim against you with your insurance company or files a lawsuit against you, you will be the “defendant.” You are defending yourself against the claim of another person.
The first think you should do is file a claim with your insurance company. This is the reason you purchased insurance in the first place right. Turn it over to Geico or Allstate or whoever you use and let them run with it.
Be advised, per your insurance contract, you have an obligation to work with your insurance company after a claim is filed. That normally means giving a recorded statement, getting your car inspected, providing them pictures etc. If you don’t cooperate with your insurance company, they could deny the victim’s claim against you which could require the victim to file a lawsuit against you to get you to act and you don’t want to deal with that believe me.
So what are the practical ramifications of hitting someone? Well, they could include:
Increased auto insurance rates. That’s what everyone dreads and we’re all concerned about right? Listen, the accident happened, it happens, and an increase in your rates is just a fact of life. Look at it this way, if you didn’t have insurance, how much would it cost you to fix the other guy’s car and pay for their medical bills and compensate them for their pain and suffering? A lot more than the increase in your rates that’s for sure.
Second, chances are there’s damage to your car as well. Hopefully you have what’s called collision coverage on your vehicle. If you don’t have collision coverage you should get it. If you caused the accident, this insurance will cover the repairs to your own vehicle. Though you will likely have to pay your deductible.
I’ve had several people call me saying they caused an accident and want to collect for their pain and suffering. If you caused the accident, you will not collect anything for your pain and suffering or for your medical bills. One exception on the medical bills, you may have what’s called a medpay policy. You can add it to your insurance policy and it will cover your meds after an accident up to $2500 or $5k regardless of fault.
Another thing people ask about is collecting for their lost wages – again if you caused the accident, you are not going to collect for lost wages generally speaking though people with PIP or personal injury protection insurance may be able to collect for lost wages.
Finally, you might want to get a rental car while your car is in the shop. But this depends on the terms of your auto insurance policy. So if you get in an accident, make sure you request to see a copy of your policy.
A couple other thoughts about being a defendant in an auto accident that I want to share with you. First, you may not be 100% at fault for the accident. Most states recognize some form of “comparative negligence” where fault for the accident can be apportioned between the parties. For example, in my home state of Illinois if you can prove that the other party was more than 50% responsible for the accident, that person is barred from recovering.
Second, just for the sake of mentioning it, it is possible that you could get hit with what’s called an “excess judgment.” This does not happen that often. But what it means is so for example, you’ve got a $25k insurance policy. Meaning that your Geico insurance is only on the hook for the first $25k in damages you cause. But what if the victim’s case is worth $500k or whatever. Geico is not going to pay that extra $475k. Now can you pay that, no, you will more than likely have to file bankruptcy if that happens. That’s why I recommend getting as much insurance as you can. Increasing your limits from $25k to $250k is much cheaper than you would think.
One final point, what if you caused an accident and don’t have auto insurance? Well, you’ll get cited by the police and you are on the hook to pay the victim’s damages out of your own pocket.
If you caused an auto accident and want to talk to an injury attorney about what comes next, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.