We’ve all seen it on TV before; the aftermath of a car wreck involving a frustrated victim and a supportive insurance agent rushing to the victim’s side promising that everything will be OK. As comforting as that image may be, the truth is that insurance companies are businesses, and like all businesses, they exist to make money. Furthermore, one of the ways insurance companies make money is by limiting the amount of money they pay in injury claims. Put these two facts together and you can see why insurance companies may not always act in a victim’s best interest. That’s why it’s important to know your rights following an auto collision. As Las Vegas personal injury attorneys, we advocate for awareness in the following areas:
Your rights immediately after an auto collision
First and foremost you should know that you are not required to communicate or give any information to a third party insurance company, ever. This is important to know because it is common for an insurance representative of an at fault driver to attempt to contact you within the first 72 hours following the collision. These insurance representatives attempt to get a recorded statement from you in order to devalue your claim or diffuse liability away from their driver. You should never give a recorded statement, and you are not obligated to communicate with these individuals in any way.
Your right to compensation for a Las Vegas personal injury claim
By far, one of the most frequently asked questions we hear is, “Am I entitled to receive compensation? If so, how do I get paid?” There are many, many factors that can impact this, but to simplify things, we’ll focus on:
- Who was at fault?
- Are you and/or the driver who hit you (tortfeasor) adequately covered?
- Who are you filing your personal injury claim with?
Who was at fault?
If you are injured in a collision and were not at fault, then you are likely eligible to recover compensation. In order to receive that compensation, either you or the tortfeasor must carry adequate auto insurance to cover the cost of damages.
How much insurance is adequate insurance?
Most Las Vegas residents know that there is a mandatory minimum automobile liability insurance requirement for all drivers on the road. However, many drivers mistakenly believe that the mandatory minimum covers them for damages caused by another driver. Unfortunately, Nevada mandatory minimums only cover damages that you cause to other drivers or property, not damages that other drivers inflict on you. This means that in order to recover compensation for damages, you must either have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (UI/UIM coverage) or you must rely on the at fault driver’s insurance company to pay for damages.
Who are you filing your personal injury claim with?
If you are hit by another driver, and you have adequate insurance coverage, you have the option of filing a claim with your own insurance company. Alternatively, you can file a claim with the tortfeasor’s (the at fault driver’s) insurance company. There are pros and cons to each
Filing a claim with your own insurance company:
- Your insurance company is more likely to be working in your best interest
- Your insurance company will inspect & evaluate damages to your vehicle
- You must pay your deductible up front (if you are not at fault, you will likely be reimbursed for this later)
Filing a claim with a third party insurance company
- There are no up front deductibles
- You must give access to a third party insurance company to inspect & evaluate damages to your vehicle
- By giving access to your vehicle, you risk opening the door for a third party insurance company to devalue your claim
Your right to transportation after a car wreck
If you are involved in a car wreck, you will likely need a vehicle for transportation while your car is being repaired and/or evaluated. You are entitled to a rental car for the entire time that your vehicle is out of commission. This is covered by the at fault driver’s insurance.
What happens if my car is totaled?
If the cost of damages to your vehicle is more than 60 percent of what the vehicle is worth, then it is legally considered “totaled.” When your car is totaled, the tortfeasor will buy the vehicle from you rather than repair it. Keep in mind that you will only get the Kelly Blue Book value for your vehicle make and model.
Your right to medical care after an auto collision
You are entitled to seek medical attention after an auto collision, and should ideally do so within the first 72 hours. Even if you initially feel fine, there are many injuries that may not become apparent until later. If you are unsure of which doctor to see or how to pay for medical care following a car wreck, a qualified personal injury attorney can help.
Protecting your medical records from insurance adjustors
Following a car wreck, the insurance company you file your claim with will ask for access to medical records. While the insurance company is entitled to see medical records related to the collision, they are not entitled to see any other records – but that doesn’t stop them from trying to access additional records. That’s why it’s extremely important for you to carefully review all documents before you sign away your medical records. It’s fairly common for insurance companies to sneak in wording to grant a blank HIPAA release granting them access to your entire medical history, including any psychiatric treatment, in an effort to blame your injuries on pre-existing conditions or past incidents. Remember that you are not obligated to disclose anything other than your medical treatment following the collision.
A car wreck alone can be an overwhelming experience, making it that much more frustrating when an insurance company tries to take advantage of you rather than help you. Fortunately, you don’t have to face them alone. The Rescue Lawyers exist to fight for your rights, maximize your compensation, and hold liable parties accountable. If you were hit by another driver, and would like to know more about your rights, contact us at (702) 888-1800 to schedule a free consultation.