According to the American auto insurance industry, the average time it takes to generate an insurance claim is 17.9 years. This means you’re statistically likely to get into at least one car accident in your lifetime.
If you’ve been in an accident and were injured, you might be able to claim pain and suffering settlement. Reasonable compensation can help cover medical expenses and replace wages lost due to an inability to work.
But, fighting for compensation after an injury can be a complicated process – especially as car accident settlements vary state by state.
So, in this article, we’ll take a look at how settlement policies vary so you can file an informed claim.
Let’s dive in!
The General Process
Before we look at specific states and how they can vary, here is a rough overview of what areas of the filing process might differ. Generally, the actions you should take after a car accident are the same across all states.
View a more detailed car accident settlement guide for information on the best procedure.
You should always seek to move somewhere safe, inform the police, and take down as many details as you can about the accident. Take photos and note down the contact details of any witnesses.
Seek treatment for your injuries regularly and avoid significant gaps between seeing a medical professional. The insurance company will investigate your claim thoroughly, so it’s essential to have a paper trail.
Each settlement usually takes into account the following factors:
- The severity of the injury
- Type of medical treatment received
- The length of recovery time
- Longterm effects and personal injuries
- Economic impact (such as lost wages, the inability to work)
- Insurance coverage
In 2017, the average car accident settlement’s process in each state will depend heavily on two things:
1. Is the State a Fault or a No-Fault State?
This determines who you initially make a claim to with when you’re injured in a car accident. In an at-fault state, the driver deemed at fault has to carry the responsibility. In a no-fault state, each driver first relies on their own insurance.
How much your PIP covers in terms of medical expenses and salary-losses can also vary from state to state. Different states have varying minimum PIP requirements.
You can find a state’s insurance requirements on their motor safety government website.
No-fault states include:
- North Dakota
- New York
Florida is also a no-fault state.
2. Is There a Statute of Limitations?
In some states, there may be a deadline on how long after you suffered an injury, you can make a claim. Once you miss this deadline, you might not be entitled to compensation.
This is more common for fault-states in which the at-fault driver’s insurance company is responsible for paying the settlement. We will explain these two factors in more detail in the two case studies below:
Car Accident Settlements in Texas
Texas is a ‘fault’ state. This means the driver who’s deemed at fault for causing the accident is responsible for paying the claims. As a victim, you will need to work with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
This is the party to which you will submit information about your accident, medical bills, and losses.
The Texas Statute of Limitations
Some states, Texas included, only give injured motorists a limited amount of time after a crash to file a lawsuit. Currently, the Texas statute of limitations spans two years from the date of the crash.
Once this time has passed, you cannot bring a lawsuit and will not receive any compensation. Insurance companies aren’t legally obliged to pay out a settlement and won’t care about your case once this deadline is missed.
Car Accident Settlements in Florida
Florida is a no-fault state. This means the responsibility to pay doesn’t automatically fall to the driver that caused the accident. Instead, every driver in the state of Florida is obligated to carry a minimum of $10,000 personal protection (PIP) insurance.
This will cover your damage up to the policy’s limit, regardless of who was at fault. If you are injured in an accident, you will first file a claim with your PIP insurance provider.
Generally, PIP covers 80% of medical expenses for emergency medical conditions and 60% of lost wages. Many victims of car accidents find that they quickly exhaust their coverage.
However, if your damages exceed your policy limit, you might have the right to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
After You File a Claim
The at-fault driver’s insurance provider will start an investigation into your claim and may speak to witnesses or review footage of the accident. They’ll also review your medical records. This is why it’s essential to keep all proof of your expenses.
The insurance company will likely try to lower the settlement they offer you. So it’s often worth seeking representation by an attorney when filing a pain and suffering claim.
Be Prepared for Varying Car Accident Settlements by State
No matter what state you live in, if you were in an accident, it’s essential to follow the general procedure. First, ensure your own safety and that of those involved and inform the police.
Then, it’s important to carefully keep records of every detail of the accident and the treatment you seek after. Regardless of whether your state is non-fault or not, you might want to file with the at-fault driver’s insurance provider to get better coverage of your costs.
The right attorney can help you achieve a car accident settlement and make sure you get fair compensation for your suffering. For more information like this, be sure to subscribe to our blog!