How Do You Know If You’re Eligible For Compensation After a Car Accident?

Categorized: General

How Do You Know If You’re Eligible For Compensation After a Car Accident?

If another driver was at fault for your crash, you have the right to compensation for your property damage and personal injuries. In many states, you can pursue the other driver for compensation, even if you were partly or mostly at fault.

The rules that govern car accident compensation vary greatly from state to state. After a crash, your next step should be to sit down with an auto accident lawyer and review your legal options. At Cordisco & Saile LLC, we can help you know if you’re eligible for compensation after a car accident. Our job is to help our clients determine the value of their car accident claim and get full and fair compensation. To schedule a free case evaluation today, call our office at 215-642-2335.

How Do I Recover Compensation After a Car Accident?

To recover compensation after a crash, you will need to navigate the car accident claims process. This usually requires going through an insurance company, either yours or the other driver’s. If the insurance company tries to dispute your claim, you might have to file a car accident lawsuit to recover the full amount you deserve.

Does It Matter Who Caused the Crash?

Depending on your state, you could be eligible for car accident compensation if you were not at fault, partially at fault, or even fully at fault. Your eligibility to pursue damages depends on whether the accident occurred in a no-fault state or a fault state, and whether the state follows a comparative negligence or contributory negligence doctrine.

What If My Crash Happened in a No-Fault State?

In states with no-fault coverage, such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey, drivers must first turn to their own insurance company for damages no matter who was at fault for the accident.

Most no-fault states require drivers to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance up to a certain level. This coverage pays for the driver’s injury-related expenses up to the policy limit. For severe injuries that exceed your policy limit, you often can sue the at-fault driver and their insurer.

The Severity of Your Injury Matters in No-Fault States

For example, imagine another car rear-ended your vehicle, and you suffered a moderate case of whiplash. Your damages included:

  • Medical bills totaling $5,000; and
  • $2,000 in lost income.

Your total injury damages, then, were $7,000. The crash occurred in a no-fault state, and you have $10,000 in PIP coverage. Because your injury damages are less than your policy limit, you would deal exclusively with your own insurance company for compensation, not the other driver’s.

Now imagine your injury caused $25,000 in damages. After your PIP coverage paid the first $10,000, you would be free to pursue the at-fault driver for the remaining $15,000.

What If My Accident Was in a Fault State?

If you have an accident in a fault state, you may pursue the other driver and their insurance company for your damages starting with the first dollar. You can file a claim with the other driver’s insurer for the full scope of damages regardless of the severity of your injuries.

What Is the Difference Between Comparative Negligence and Contributory Negligence?

If you shared some of the fault for your crash, you could still recover partial compensation. How much you qualify for will depend on whether your state follows comparative negligence laws or contributory negligence rules.

Comparative Negligence States

In comparative negligence states, each driver in an accident is eligible to receive compensation from the other driver based on their share of fault.

For example, imagine you were 40 percent at fault for the wreck, and the other driver was 60 percent to blame. You suffered $20,000 of damages in the crash. Since you were 40 percent at fault, you can only recover 60 percent of your damages. That means you would receive $12,000 in this case.

In a pure comparative negligence state, you can recover compensation after a crash, even if you bear 99 percent of the blame for causing it. 

Modified Comparative Negligence States

Several states follow a modified comparative negligence doctrine. In these states, you can recover compensation up to a certain percentage of fault, such as 50 or 51 percent. If a driver has a greater percentage of blame, they cannot recover compensation.

That means a driver who was 49 percent at fault could pursue the other party for the remaining 51 percent of their damages. However, if the same driver were 52 percent at fault, they cannot recover anything from the other driver.

Contributory Negligence States

Contributory negligence states are much more unforgiving of drivers who are partially at fault for accidents. This doctrine holds that if a party to an accident bears any liability—even 1 percent—they cannot collect compensation.

How Can I Talk to a Car Accident Lawyer About My Case?

The Cordisco & Saile LLC team focuses on car accident law. We want to help you recover the fair compensation you deserve. For a free case evaluation with a member of our team, call 215-642-2335 today.

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