Does Liability Insurance Cover My Car if Someone Hit My Car?
No. “Liability” refers to damage you cause to someone else. If you cause an accident, you might be liable for the damages suffered by others involved in the crash, including property damage and medical expenses. If the person who hit your car sued you for these damages and you were found to be all or mostly at fault, your liability insurance should pay their claim. It will not pay for your own car repairs or medical bills.
However, some options allow you to cover your expenses in an accident where you were primarily responsible (or where you simply don’t have enough evidence to prove the other driver was at fault). Collision insurance will pay for car repairs/property damage in an accident, regardless of who was at fault. Similarly, MedPay coverage will cover any medical expenses your health insurance doesn’t, regardless of fault.
But not everyone has collision and MedPay on their auto insurance policy. Unlike liability insurance, these add-ons are not required in Colorado or Wyoming. To save money, some people only buy the minimum required insurance, which is $25,000 per person for bodily injury or death, with a total of $50,000 per accident. Colorado also requires $15,000 in property damage liability, and Wyoming mandates $20,000. Uninsured/Underinsured motorist, collision, and MedPay are optional, but if you’re in an accident that isn’t covered by another party’s car insurance, you might wish you’d purchased them.
What to Do if You Have Liability Insurance and You Hit Someone?
Check yourself and your passengers for injuries, call 911 to report the accident, request an ambulance if needed, and check on the people in the other car. Offer reasonable assistance to anyone who is injured and stay with them until help arrives. When discussing the accident and giving a statement to the police, do not admit fault, whether or not you think you were at fault. It isn’t always clear who caused the accident, and in many crashes, both drivers have some responsibility.
You should exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver, and the responding law enforcement officer will also need this information for their report. Providing your insurance information is not an admission of guilt; it simply means you comply with the law. When questioned by the police, you should answer honestly, but don’t speculate about fault or volunteer information they didn’t ask for.
Do Not Assume You Were at Fault Because ‘You Hit Someone’
The fact that you hit another car instead of the other way around also doesn’t necessarily mean you were at fault. Accidents can be chaotic and confusing, and when asked, many people aren’t really sure who hit who in the first place. Even if you’re sure you hit the other vehicle, its driver could still have been at least partially at fault. For instance, if you hit a car because the driver ran a red light or was driving with their headlights off after dark, it may still be their fault.
Understanding Modified Comparative Negligence in Car Accident Cases
Additionally, culpability can be shared under Wyoming and Colorado law. Both states use modified comparative negligence statutes for torts like car accident cases. These laws take into consideration the fact that many accidents are more than one party’s fault. One driver might be speeding while the other driver was looking at their phone, for example. Both drivers made mistakes, but who was mostly at fault for the accident?
Ultimately, the insurance companies will work out responsibility, and the driver who was more at fault (more than 50 percent) will be deemed liable. As a result, their liability insurance will pay for the other driver’s damages, such as car repairs and medical bills. But there is one more stipulation of modified comparative negligence: Any percentage of responsibility attributed to the injured party is deducted from the final award for damages.
An example would be if you were going a little beyond the speed limit, but another car turned out of a parking lot right into your path. Could you have stopped in time if you’d driven ten miles an hour slower? Probably not, because the other car didn’t leave you much time to react. Still, the increased speed might have made the damage to both cars a little worse. After negotiations, the insurance companies decide the driver who didn’t look before turning was 90 percent at fault, and you were 10 percent at fault. So if you had $5,000 in damages, you would receive $4,500.
Having the help of an experienced car accident attorney can benefit you in the negotiation process. We always fight to tell our client’s side of the story and present as much evidence as possible that they had little to no responsibility for the accident. In many cases, this results in a lower percentage of fault and a larger settlement for the client.
Get Medical Attention for Your Injuries, Even Minor Ones
Whether your insurance or the other driver’s policy pays for damages, you should ensure your injuries aren’t more severe than you thought. More than one person has brushed off a “minor” injury only to wake up in excruciating pain the next day. Others have developed chronic pain despite thinking an “inconsequential” problem would disappear quickly.
If you feel silly going to the emergency room for something small, you can go to your doctor or an urgent care clinic instead but do see a doctor and document your injuries. That way, you’ll have a record of what happened if you need further treatment, and if your pain or symptoms linger, you’ll be able to get your treatment covered by insurance. If you wait to see a healthcare professional, the insurance adjuster could argue that your injuries were unrelated to the accident.
Talk to an Attorney Sooner Rather Than Later
The other driver may already be talking to a lawyer, and you should be, too. Much of the work we do to get our clients the settlement they deserve involves gathering evidence. If we can show the other party’s insurance company that they were at least mostly at fault, you will be able to collect damages, and you will not be responsible for theirs.
The best time to investigate an accident is immediately after it happens. If possible, take pictures of the accident scene, including damage to both vehicles. However, you should always think of your safety first. We know that sometimes injured people can’t safely get out of the car and take pictures, and our investigators have other ways of determining what happened.
The next best time to investigate an accident is as soon as possible. Once we take your case, we’ll visit the accident scene and seek other types of evidence. For instance, we often look around for local residences or commercial buildings that may have doorbell or security cameras. If we can get footage of the accident, this could help us show how the other driver’s actions caused the crash. Additionally, we try to find witnesses who might have been missed, and we can request data from both vehicles’ black boxes. Finally, we can subpoena the other driver’s phone records to find out if they were distracted while driving.
What If it Turns Out You Were at Fault?
The good news is that this is what your liability insurance is for. Your insurance company should pay for the other party’s damages up to the policy limit. The bad news is that in cases with high-dollar damages, the minimum insurance may not cover all the other party’s damages, and they could sue you for the difference. For example, if you happen to hit someone who is driving a very expensive car that receives a large amount of damage, $15,000 or $20,000 in property damage coverage may still leave you with some exposure. For that reason, we strongly recommend buying more than the minimum required insurance if you can afford it.
Even in situations where you are primarily at fault, a lawyer may be able to help reduce your liability by showing that the other driver also contributed to the crash.
Your own damages would be covered up to the limit of your MedPay or Collision coverage if you opted to buy these. (If you don’t have them, consider adding them to your policy.)
Talk to a Car Accident Lawyer Today at the Olson Law Firm
Attorney Sean Olson founded the Olson Law Firm in 2011 to assist injured people in getting the help and compensation they deserve. He listens to each client’s story and is very responsive. When he takes your case, he aims to help you navigate the complex system of recovering your damages through insurance coverage.
Please call the Olson Law Firm for a free consultation. We’ll listen to your story, study the details of your case, answer your questions, and explain your options for pursuing a claim.