Being involved in a fender bender or even a major crash can go from a minor headache to a major pain if your insurance company denies your claim. All hope is not lost, however, and there are still ways for drivers to collect when car insurance fails.
Consider these three options when deciding how to pick up where your car insurance left off:
1. File a Claim With the Other Driver's Insurance Company.
If you were involved in a collision with another driver, you can file a claim with that driver's insurance company for any damages caused by that driver.
All drivers are required by law to have automobile insurance, and most policies have property damage liability coverage, which pays for damage to another person's property by the driver's car, including damage to other vehicles.
A smart driver always remembers to exchange insurance information after a collision. With this information, you can contact the other driver's insurance company and proceed with filing a claim.
2. Go to Small Claims Court.
Hiring an attorney to represent you in civil court can be very expensive, so if the damage not paid by car insurance is only worth a couple hundred dollars, you may want to consider filing in small claims court.
The cap on the amount of damages allowed in small claims court varies by state, and in most cases the court will not hear claims over $5,000.
Once a claim is filed against the other driver, a court may request that both parties attend mediation to resolve the issue.
3. Sue in Civil Court.
Drivers who have property damage or medical costs denied by insurance for more than $5,000 may want to consider consulting an experienced car accident attorney and filing a claim against the other driver in civil court.
Your attorney may suggest a certain strategy, but here are some common claims that drivers use to get relief:
- Negligence. Claims that your property damage or injuries were caused by a driver not acting with the care that a reasonable driver would give.
- Negligence per se. A driver violating a traffic law meant to protect drivers from accidents (like running a red light) may automatically be responsible for damage to your car and injuries.
- Breach of contract/bad faith. You can stick it to your insurance company for denying your claim by claiming they refused to pay out of bad faith or violated their insurance agreement with you.