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UPDATED: Nov 14, 2016
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If you were in an accident that someone else caused but didn’t have enough auto insurance to cover the damages, or the insurance company refused to pay damages you think they owed, you may be wondering how you might win a car insurance claim suit.
The simple answer is that to win, you have to be in the right, but as you probably guessed, the real problem is more complex than that, and you need to understand what to expect if you plan to file a suit.
In order to win an auto insurance claim suit:
- you must have proper documentation
- the other driver must have adequate coverage
- you will need a good lawyer to help you mediate the case
To learn some of the ins and outs of car insurance suits and probably more than you ever wanted to know about auto insurance claims continue reading on below.
Also, be sure to enter your zip above to compare car insurance rates from many top car insurance companies!
If the At Fault Driver Doesn’t Have Enough Auto Insurance Coverage
Unfortunately, this problem occurs far too often. If you live in a no-fault state, you aren’t going to be able to file a suit against that person for the damages; however, your own auto insurance should cover the difference (that’s just how it works in no-fault states).
There are always exceptions, of course, and if your damages exceed what both your insurance and the at-fault driver’s insurance covers, you are allowed to sue in most no-fault states.
If, however, you live in a tort state, you have the right to sue someone if they don’t carry enough auto insurance to cover losses that they caused.
To win the case, all must provide a police report, a signed statement from any witnesses and a list of damages.
Before you sue, however, you may want to give the at-fault driver an opportunity to pay for damages.
The reason for this is that when you go to court, you are going to have to hire a lawyer. The exception is that if the damages are $7500 or less, you can sue in small claims court, which means you won’t have to hire a lawyer.
You are going to find that some lawyers work off a “you win, they win” proposition, while others will charge a flat fee for taking the case.
The way this is usually determined is by how much the lawyer stands to make. If the suit you are filing is going to garner you hundreds of thousands of dollars, for example, the lawyer will probably take the case based on a percentage of the winnings, which can vary from 20% to 60%.
If the suit is going to be much smaller, the lawyer will charge a base fee plus an hourly fee, which will be billed to you later. The lawyer should be able to give you an estimate on hours, but there is no way to be exact until the case is over.
Most lawyers will try to mediate with the at-fault driver and/or their lawyer to settle the issue out of court. This is the less costly option for everyone concerned, as you won’t have to pay court fees.
If this doesn’t work, then your case will go to court and a judge will decide the outcome.
If you are in the right, you will win the case and in most cases, the case will be decided one way or another in just a couple of days.
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If the Insurance Company Won’t Pay
This can be a lot more complicated than a scenario where the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance. If you’re in the right, you shouldn’t have a problem eventually winning your case.
The problem, however, is proving that you’re in the right and fighting a company that seems to have limitless funds.
To be fair, insurance companies aren’t out to stiff their customers; they are, however, in the business of making money. If they think that your claim isn’t justified, they are going to fight to keep from paying the claim.
There will be an opportunity for your lawyer to meet with the insurance company’s lawyers in an attempt to settle out of court. This is a chance for your lawyer to prove that you have a case.
If the insurance company sees that you are in the right, most often they will pay; if, however, there are millions of dollars at stake, they may take it all the way to the end.
The Good News and the Bad News
The good news is that when it comes to these types of suits, the people in the right usually win. Another bit of good news is that if you sue an insurance company and win, they will probably pay you. They don’t want the bad press that comes with not paying what they owe.
The bad news is that when you sue an individual, if they decide not to pay you, it is possible that you will never get a cent of the money that they owe you.
There are some people who simply don’t have the assets or the ability to pay; others, however, flat out refuse and you could be out of luck.
What most people don’t realize is that even if they are justified in their suit:
- the courts don’t compel people to pay
- you will likely be unsuccessful at attempting to have a person’s wages garnished
- you can attempt to collect their assets, but most courts won’t allow that either
Uninsured Driver and Underinsured Driver Insurance
This can be frustrating, especially if the bills are piling up.
There is a way to avoid this situation. That is by ensuring that you purchase underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage when you purchase your auto insurance.
This will ensure that if someone doesn’t have enough insurance, your insurance will take care of the rest of the costs. While this coverage is not mandatory, it is one of the wisest insurance investments you can make.
If you don’t currently have this type of insurance or you aren’t sure if you are paying too much for it, try using a car insurance rate quote tool to compare rates from different companies.
You can get the coverage that you need at the best prices by comparing your options with our auto insurance comparison tool now.