When many speak of the consequences of car accidents, they often reference physical injuries. Many people do not immediately think about the wide-ranging financial consequences of a car accident. When you have suffered an injury in a car accident, there are far more financial damages that you can face over and above your medical expenses and lost wages. For instance, your car insurance company might try to increase your premiums following your accident.
Exercising legal options can help you to reduce the increase in your car insurance premiums or avoid one altogether. When you hire an auto accident lawyer to help prove you were not to blame for the crash, you can avoid being liable for any crash-related losses, and you will likely avoid increased premiums. This is only one of many reasons why you should speak with a Chicago car accident lawyer immediately.
Increase of premiums After a Car Accident
After being in a car accident when you were to blame, you should expect your insurance premiums to increase. If you were the at-fault driver of your accident, your auto insurance premium might experience up to a 46 percent increase. If you were not the at-fault driver of your accident, however, you might not have to worry about increased premiums. When the liable driver’s insurance company covers your losses, your own insurer should not punish you with higher charges.
Surcharges After a Car Accident
The reason why insurance premiums instantly increase after a car accident is because of the surcharges. A surcharge is a fee associated with your insurance premium and is automatically applied when a claim gets filed. Insurance companies add surcharges to claims to cover the costs associated with at-fault car accidents. In addition to at-fault car accidents, surcharges can also get added to claims stemming from traffic violations.
Other factors that increase your insurance premiums
In addition to whether you are the at-fault driver of your car accident, other factors can increase your premiums. One of the factors is the severity of the car accident. If the property damage caused by your accident exceeds a particular dollar amount, you can see an increase in your premiums. The dollar amount of property damage varies by state and the insurance company. Some states consider property damage of up to $2,000 to be extreme. Other states raise your insurance premiums if the property damage exceeds $10,000.
Prior history of at-fault accidents
Another factor that can increase your insurance premiums is your prior history of at-fault accidents. If you have just one claim filed for an at-fault accident, the increase in your premiums is easier to reduce through other solutions like accident forgiveness. If you have a prior history of at-fault accident claims filed, the ability to reduce your insurance premiums will be more difficult.
Insurance companies, in general, will be skeptical about insuring you because of your prior history. Having more than one at-fault accident claim can make you appear as a risky and reckless driver. This is an important reason why you always want to prove when someone else was to blame for your crash.
Type of car accident
Another factor that can affect the increase of your premium is the type of car accident that you were involved in. If you were in a car accident where the other car or your car was totaled, those factors can increase your premium. If you were in a minor car accident like a fender bender, your insurance premiums might not increase by that much.
Regarding the type of accident you are involved in, your insurance company will classify your accident as a chargeable or non-chargeable accident. A chargeable accident is an accident that your insurance company will use to assess whether you are a future risk to insure or not. Any accident resulting from a traffic violation, like a rear-end accident due to speeding, is considered a chargeable accident. A nonchargeable accident is an accident that occurs through no fault or negligence of your own. For example, an accident where a tree falls on your car will be considered a nonchargeable accident.
Again, if you were not the at-fault party, the severity of the crash should not matter, as you should not experience an increase at all.
Length of a surcharge After a Car Crash
The length of your surcharge depends on several factors. One of those factors is the type of insurance company you are with. Some insurance companies temporarily allow your surcharges to increase your premiums, while others allow your surcharges to be permanent. Another factor includes whether there has been a lapse in coverage or late payment. Insurance companies may incorporate additional surcharges if you have been late on your payments or have allowed your coverage to lapse.
Reducing surcharges After a Car Crash
Once your insurance company includes a surcharge in your premium, there is little that you can do to remove it. However, there are actions that you can take to reduce your insurance premiums in the long run. One of the most common solutions is an accident forgiveness program. Many insurance companies offer some form of accident forgiveness for drivers to take advantage of. Some drivers can include accident forgiveness coverage in their policies where their insurance premiums will not see an increase due to their first accident.
If you take the blame for an accident that was not your fault, you can lose your one free pass under accident forgiveness. Never risk doing this.
Searching for discounts
Another way to reduce the surcharges on your premiums is to ask about the discounts your insurance company offers. Some insurance companies offer discounts for bundles of insurance coverage. For example, a claimant may receive a discounted price if they purchase home, auto, and business coverage. If the surcharges are too high for you to pay, you may also consider searching for a more affordable insurance policy with another company.
Reconsider your auto insurance policies
Another suggestion that insurance companies offer is to reconsider the coverage you need for your policy. You must carry specific insurance coverages, but you can reduce or eliminate other insurance coverages from your policy entirely. One of the policies that you may want to reconsider is comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage is one of those policies that is optional, and you can lower or eliminate it. Before making any changes to your insurance coverages, speak with an insurance adjuster about all of the implications of making changes.
Other legal options
As you can see, many financial consequences come with a car accident. If there is no doubt that you are the at-fault driver of your accident, then these are the consequences that you must face. However, if you feel that the other driver should be the at-fault driver of your accident, you have other legal options that you can exercise. One of those legal options is filing a car accident claim against the liable party’s insurer.
Benefits of filing an at-fault insurance claim
One of the benefits of filing an at-fault claim for your car accident is that the case will determine the liability of the other driver. One of the ways that you can reduce or avoid surcharges to your premiums is by showing you are not to blame for your accident. If you can prove that the other driver was responsible for your car accident, you will no longer have to pay increased insurance premiums. You can do this with help from a car accident lawyer.
Elements of negligence After a Chicago Auto Crash
To prove the other driver’s liability, you must prove that their actions towards you were negligent. Negligence is a legal standard that commonly establishes the liability of defendants in a personal injury case. In a car accident lawsuit, you will have to prove four elements regarding the other driver’s negligence and liability.
Duty of care
You must prove that the other driver owed you a specific duty of care. This element is often easy to prove because each driver owes the other driver a duty of care to operate their vehicle safely.
Violation of duty of care
You must prove that the other driver’s actions violated that duty of care that they owed you. This element usually gets proven by evidence of the other driver’s careless actions or violations of traffic laws.
You must prove that the other driver’s violation of the duty of care led to your accident. You must demonstrate a direct connection between the other driver’s careless actions, the crash, and your injuries.
You must prove that the other driver’s careless actions caused you a certain amount of damage. Damages can include your medical expenses, lost income from work, property damage, and any physical or mental pain you experienced from your accident-related injuries.
Fighting against the other driver
Of course, filing an at-fault insurance claim or lawsuit comes with a certain level of opposition. The other driver’s insurer will not just allow you to hold them liable for your car accident without putting up a fight. Insurance adjusters are just as passionate as the other driver about wanting to avoid liability for your accident, but for different reasons.
The other driver does not want their insurance premiums to increase, while the insurance company does not want to pay out the amount of compensation that you are requesting. That is why the insurance company will find ways to deny your claim or pay as little as possible.
Blaming you for your accident
Insurance companies often use faulty reasoning to blame you for your car accident. Even if more evidence proves their driver’s liability, the insurance adjusters will attempt to paint you as the negligent driver.
To prevent yourself from being the at-fault driver, you need the legal assistance of a car accident lawyer. An insurance company knows the correct type of evidence to use against you and builds a case against you. A car accident lawyer knows the same information and the way to dispute arguments made by insurance companies.
Proving the other driver’s liability
A car accident attorney is a legal advocate who can establish the other driver’s liability for you. A lawyer understands investigating car accidents and gathering the correct type of evidence to use to your advantage. They know the type of evidence that insurance companies need for a successful claim.
Negotiating with insurance companies
Many car accident victims settle their claims directly with an insurance company. Reaching a settlement this way eliminates the need for litigation and allows a claimant to obtain compensation quicker. However, you must be sure to have a lawyer review any offer before you accept it.
Insurance companies often lowball you in a settlement offer, and the compensation the adjuster initially offers is rarely the amount you should get. This lowballing is where a car accident lawyer helps immensely. A car accident lawyer can identify when an offer is too low and negotiate for a more significant settlement on your behalf. By negotiating, you can still get the best of both worlds. You can receive the maximum compensation while the other driver is held accountable for your car accident, so you can avoid any repercussions with your own insurance.
How long do accidents remain on your driving record?
You may wonder whether an at-fault claim or lawsuit is necessary to keep your insurance premiums from increasing. When considering whether to take on a claim, consider that you can either fight to prove the other driver’s liability or pay increased premiums for at least five years. This is the average time an accident remains on your driving record for insurance purposes. That is a long time to pay for increased premiums when you did not cause a crash. With a car accident lawsuit, you have the opportunity to absolve yourself of liability for your accident and avoid paying a ridiculous premium surcharge for five years.
Speak to a car accident lawyer today
When you want to protect your car insurance premiums following an accident, Contact a personal injury lawyer. Filing a claim will help demonstrate who is the actual at-fault driver of your accident to all insurers involved.