A serious car accident can be an unnerving experience on many levels. You may be dealing with injuries, medical expenses, vehicle repairs, and lost income from not being able to work. On top of it all, you may also be concerned about how much your insurance rates are going to go up because of your crash.
It All Depends on Fault
Whether your insurance rates will increase largely depends on whether you were legally at fault for your accident. If you were, there is a good chance that your premiums will increase. In fact, according to Bankrate, drivers who were at-fault in accidents that resulted in bodily injury or extensive property damage experience, on average, a 31 percent increase in their premiums.
How is Fault Determined?
Legally speaking, a person is at fault when their negligence or violation of a safety rule results in an accident. Some examples of ways in which drivers can be at fault include:
- Distracted driving
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Impaired driving
- Driving without headlights
- Ignoring poor weather
- Improper or illegal turns
- Poor vehicle maintenance
In many cases, the police who respond to the scene of an accident make an initial determination about fault and may even issue a citation or arrest one of the drivers involved. Sometimes, fault is determined by insurance company investigators after the fact. Finally, in some cases, fault is disputed and ultimately is left up to a judge or jury to decide. Regardless of the facts of your case, it’s always a good idea to talk to a lawyer about your accident in order to protect your rights.
You May Be Able to Offset Increased Premiums
Even if you are determined to be at fault for your accident and your premiums increase, there may be certain things that you can do to try and lower your monthly payment. For example, many insurers offer discounts for military members, good students, people who do not drive often, or people in certain professions. Furthermore, you can also use this as an opportunity to shop around, as different insurers calculate rates differently.
Can a Lawyer Help?
You may be wondering whether there is anything a lawyer can do to prevent your insurance rates from going up. In some cases, an attorney may be able to challenge the insurance company’s assertion that you were at fault for your accident. For example, if your attorney was able to obtain evidence that indicated that the police report was incorrect or that showed that another driver was actually at fault for the accident, your insurance company would not raise your premiums.
In the event that you were not at fault for your accident, an attorney can help ensure that you obtain the compensation to which you are entitled. Insurance companies make money by paying out as little as possible on each claim they receive, and they will happily settle your case for less than it is worth. A qualified lawyer can evaluate your case and attempt to negotiate a settlement that adequately compensates you for your losses.