If you plan on filing a claim against another party’s insurance carrier, there are some things to keep in mind as you build a case and begin negotiations. You may be able to file a third-party insurance claim against another person or entity’s insurance company if you get into an accident that another liable party caused. Although the claims process may seem simple and straightforward in many cases, there are various issues that can make negotiations more complicated and increase the risk of a denial or reduced settlement.
What Is a Third-Party Insurance Claim?
In most cases when you get into an accident, your insurance company would be able to pay out the damages when you file a claim with your own insurance company. In this relationship, you are the first party and your insurance company is the second party involved in the matter.
However, if another driver or another liable party is responsible for the accident, you may be able to file a claim against the other party’s insurance company, which is a third party.
In a third-party insurance claim, liable parties’ insurers would negotiate a settlement amount to cover all relevant damages resulting from an accident. This settlement amount could help cover various damages, including economic damages such as medical costs and property damage along with non-economic damages like pain and suffering.
As an example, teens and distracted driving may be behind a car accident, in which case you may be able to file a third-party claim against the teens’ or their parents’ insurance company to recover compensation. You would start by notifying police and generating an accident report, followed by notifying your insurance company. If your insurer or the authorities determine that the other drivers were at fault, you can then file a third-party claim with the other insurance company either on your own or through your insurance carrier.
Do You Have Grounds to File an Auto Insurance Claim Against Someone Else’s Policy?
Whether you have the ability to file a third-party insurance claim will depend on a couple key factors: whether you’re in an at-fault state like Illinois and whether another party is liable.
If you’re in an accident in an at-fault state, you may be able to file a claim against the liable party’s insurer for injuries and property damage. On the other hand, if you’re in a no-fault state, the other party’s insurance policy will only cover property damage. You would then need to go through your own insurance company to recover compensation for injuries and medical expenses. Typically, in no-fault states, individuals must carry a certain amount of personal injury protection (PIP) insurance that can help cover medical costs that health insurance won’t cover.
Sometimes you might also get into an accident with a motorist who’s underinsured or uninsured. In these instances, you would file a claim with your insurance company to recover compensation via underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage.
Steps for Filing a Third-Party Insurance Claim
If you get into an accident and want to file an auto insurance claim against someone else’s insurance, there are some specific steps you must take to maximize your chances of succeeding with your case. The following are the key steps covering how to make an accident claim against another party:
1. Gather Key Information About the Other Driver at the Scene
The first big step to take is to collect information from the other driver involved in the accident. While you may not be able to do this if you require immediate treatment after the accident, you may be able to obtain this information later, potentially with the help of Chicago car accident attorneys.
The information you collect should include the driver’s name, contact details, driver’s license number, vehicle make and model, license plate number, and insurance details.
2. Take Photos or Record Video Footage of the Scene and Damages
If possible, you should also take photos or record footage of the accident scene, including the vehicles involved and the surrounding area. If you sustained any injuries or other property damage, you should also take photos of these damages. An attorney may be able to help you obtain this evidence if you are unable to at any point.
3. Contact the Police
Depending on the severity of the damages resulting from the accident, you may also need to call the police. The police will begin generating a report that includes all key details about the accident, which could help support your case when filing a claim with insurers. The police can help piece together the scene and determine who was at fault before insurers begin their own investigation.
The police will also be able to speak with witnesses at the scene and collect their statements, which could also support your version of events when filing a claim.
4. Notify Your Insurer
Another important step to take is to let your insurance company know about the accident and potentially begin a claim. In the process, you should provide your insurer with as much information and evidence as you can. With the help of ample evidence, insurers can investigate the claim and determine who was liable. Your insurer may then determine whether you have the option of filing a third-party claim.
5. Contact an Attorney
Before filing an insurance claim against the liable party, you may want to speak with a car accident lawyer to discuss your case. An attorney will be able to review the details of your case and the evidence you’ve obtained in a free consultation. He or she can then determine what kind of compensation you’re able to recover through a third-party insurance claim. If the attorney decides to represent you, he or she can also help negotiate with insurers.
6. Begin the Claims Process and Wait for a Determination
You can then begin filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. The other insurance company will then begin to investigate the claim to determine liability and the total amount of compensation you’re able to recover. Often, you won’t need to reach out to the other insurance carrier, but you may need to file a third-party claim if the liable party refuses to notify his or her insurer and open a claim.
Do You Need a Lawyer for Accident Claims Against Another Party’s Insurance?
If you plan on filing a claim when someone else is liable for a car accident, you may benefit from working with an attorney. Consulting an attorney for accident claims can help you negotiate with insurers and ensure you’re able to get the full compensation you deserve.
When you file an accident claim against someone else’s insurance, the insurer will assign an adjuster to your case. This person may seem helpful and eager to get you full compensation for an accident, but you must keep in mind that this adjuster is working for the insurer, not the claimant. The insurer wants to avoid paying out large sums of money in settlements, meaning that your adjuster will look for any reason he or she can find to either reduce or deny your claim.
Negotiations may seem straightforward and clear, but you might inadvertently say the wrong thing or otherwise compromise your case, limiting your chances of getting full compensation. These risks are where a car accident lawyer may be able to help. An attorney with experience handling the claims process will be able to prepare statements, present evidence, and provide you with guidance to help you avoid any missteps when filing a claim. Additionally, an attorney can continue negotiating beyond the first offer insurers make if it falls below the settlement amount you’re actually entitled to recover.
Generally, it’s always in your best interest to speak with an attorney about your case before filing a claim, particularly if your case involves injuries and extensive damages that raise the stakes.
Who Else Can Be Liable in a Car Accident?
While many car accident cases may be the fault of a driver, cases could involve other liable parties. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, you may be able to file a claim against two or more parties going beyond the other driver.
There are several potentially liable parties in car accident cases, including:
If you get into an accident with another driver and he or she was within the scope of his or her employment at the time of the collision, the driver’s employer may be liable. For example, an employer may be liable if a delivery driver was rushing to make a delivery on time and got into an accident by running a red light. Trucking companies and others may also be liable if they failed to take the right steps when hiring employees, such as looking at their criminal history for previous traffic offenses.
Sometimes mechanical failure and defects in vehicle designs or fabrication could lead to accidents. For instance, defective seat belts, airbags, and other safety devices could unexpectedly malfunction and cause an accident. Tires, wheels, and other components may also have certain defects that lead to crash. In these instances, the manufacturers of defective auto parts or vehicles may be liable for an accident resulting from their products.
Bars and Restaurants
The staff at restaurants and bars are also potentially liable if they overserve patrons to the point where they are a danger to themselves and others. Staff must cut people off and refuse service if a patron is visibly intoxicated and presents an obvious risk. If a drunk driver causes an accident after staff has overserved them, both the driver and staff may be liable.
Road Workers and Maintenance Crews
Although drivers need to practice caution when driving in areas with road workers and maintenance crews, these professionals must also do what they can to maintain safe roadways and alert drivers to the presence of themselves and their equipment. To keep the road safe for all motorists and others, workers must put up signage indicating road work and potential detours, and they must remove any equipment or debris when the work is complete. If workers fail to take the proper precautions to maximize safety, they may also be responsible if an accident occurs.
State or federal governments may also be liable for accidents if they neglect to care for their roadways. Over time, roadways, particularly in locations with harsh weather and high volumes of traffic, could develop wear and tear requiring adequate repairs. Potholes, cracks, and other forms of damage can be difficult or even impossible for drivers to see, and they can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles and get into accidents. These hazards make it necessary for municipalities to do what they can to maintain their roadways at all times. They may also account for collisions in intersections with high accident rates.
In some cases, drivers may not operate their own vehicle when they get into an accident. They might operate a friend or family member’s vehicle when running errands, for instance. If the owner of the vehicle negligently entrusted the vehicle to a negligent driver, the owner may be liable in addition to the driver. For example, the owner of a vehicle may have allowed a friend to drive his or her vehicle while aware that the driver was intoxicated and unfit to drive.
Take the Right Steps to File a Third-Party Accident Claim
If you believe that a driver or another party is responsible for an accident involving you or a loved one, you may be able to file an auto insurance claim against someone else’s insurance. Working with an attorney and determining liability through your own insurance company can help you figure out whether you can file a third-party insurance claim and what type of compensation you can recover.