Who Pays What After a Car Accident in Texas?
It’s hard to overstate the number of financial stresses that can arise after a car accident. You’ve got injuries to treat, and you’ve got a car to repair. If the accident involved a loved one, you may have a wrongful death claim to pursue.
If the other driver was at fault you may already be aware that Texas law states the other driver’s insurance company must pay for your damages. You may also wonder what that includes. Will the other driver’s insurance company pay for my medical bills? What about a rental car? Will they reimburse me for time off work right away?
The answer can be a little bit complicated.
The at-fault driver’s insurance company should pay medical expenses up to that driver’s policy limits.
The at-fault driver’s insurance company is not going to write the check right away, though. In fact, it may be years before they pay their fair share.
In the meantime, your own health insurer may pay a portion of those bills unless you have a clause in your policy that specifically excludes damages from an automobile accident.
Your own personal injury protection (PIP) coverage may step in as well. If your health insurance is already paying a portion of the bills the medical payments policy may cover your deductibles and copays, ensuring you don’t pay for anything out-of-pocket.
Keep in mind that both your health insurance company and your own auto insurance company can choose to “subrogate” against your settlement with the at-fault driver’s company. This means they will make a reimbursement claim against your settlement to cover anything they paid for that was rightfully the responsibility of the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
This can seem frustrating and unfair, but the law doesn’t allow you to receive a “double benefit” just because you win a court case. You’re not really losing any money, though…any subrogation money would have gone to your medical providers one way or another anyway.
If the other driver’s policy limits aren’t enough to cover your medical bills (which can happen) you may have to turn back to your own insurance policy. If you have uninsured/underinsured motorist’s coverage, your own policy will make up the difference.
Again, the at-fault driver’s insurance company should pay if you have to, say, hire a housekeeper because your injuries make it impossible to take care of your home. Unfortunately, you may not see that money for some time.
One solution would be to file against your own PIP coverage, if you have any. This is exactly what your personal injury protection policy is for. Keep in mind it will only pay out to policy limits, which are typically anywhere from $2,500 to $10,000.
Can I Get a Rental Car After a Car Accident?
Getting a rental car fast is a little easier than getting medical bills paid. Property damage claims are often handled separately from personal injury claims. It’s entirely possible for the at-fault driver’s insurance company to arrange for a rental, assess the damage to your vehicle, and repair the vehicle without a hitch even though they are holding back on offering a fair settlement.
In fact, if your auto accident didn’t involve any injuries and only handled property damage, this entire process may be pretty smooth for you, especially if the other driver admits responsibility.
Even so, if you plan to press a personal injury claim it’s a good idea to contact a lawyer first. Let your lawyer work with the insurance company to arrange for a rental car. You don’t want to put yourself into a position where you might ultimately undermine your injury claim with something you say while pursuing a rental.
If the at-fault driver’s insurance company asks you for any kind of a recorded statement, back off and call your attorney immediately.
Either way, you may rent a vehicle that’s of a similar size and make of the one you’re replacing, and the at-fault driver’s insurance policy should cover the costs.
Be prepared for one frustrating possibility. You may have to pay for the rental out-of-pocket initially, then seek reimbursement later.
What if you have a rental car policy on your own insurance? You may be able to use that coverage. As with medical bills, your insurance company will probably subrogate against the at-fault driver’s company later.
Who Pays for Lost Wages After a Car Accident?
The at-fault insurance company will be responsible if you miss work while seeking treatment for your accident. You probably won’t get this money right away, as it will be part of the liability claim.
If you have a PIP policy then you can get reimbursement from that policy while you wait, up to your policy limits. If your own insurance company delays or denies the claim, your personal injury attorney can help. An attorney can file a bad faith claim against your insurance company if necessary, which would entitle you to triple the amount you would have been entitled to had they simply paid up.
Car accidents get complicated. Get help.
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