Determining Whose Auto Insurance Pays for an Injury Claim

Tim Miley
Injury Lawyer, Author, & Owner of The Miley Legal Group

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that the yearly cost of fatal motor vehicle crashes in West Virginia is nearly $350 million. These costs include medical expenses that amount to more than $3 million and the cost of loss of productivity.

Non-fatal motor vehicle accidents, too, result in losses and it is only natural that vehicle owners would want to know about the provisions of auto insurance if filing an injury claim.

Which party pays for an injury in an automobile accident depends on liability and the amount and nature of auto insurance coverage held by both drivers. A rule of thumb is that the at-fault driver’s liability insurance coverage pays the other driver’s damages caused by the accident.

That is why it is critical to establish liability in an auto accident. However, complications do arise even in seemingly straightforward situations and even in cases where the at-fault driver does not have auto insurance.

When the At-Fault Driver Has Auto Insurance

While the laws specify that at the at-fault driver in a motor accident case has to pay for damages sustained by the other party, complications arise in the following instances:

  • The insurers are not convinced. Insurance carriers do not want to part with their money. So they may try to defend their clients and refute their claims for damages even in cases where liability is obvious.
  • The onus is then on the plaintiff to gather evidence and prepare a case to convince the insurers. Sometimes, the case may even go to trial when the insurers are particularly stubborn or in cases where liability is not apparent.
  • The at-fault driver’s coverage is not adequate to pay for the damages. When the at-fault driver’s auto insurance coverage can’t cover the repairs, the plaintiff has no choice but to approach his or her insurance company to pay for the costs.

When the At-Fault Driver is Not Insured

There are countless motorists in West Virginia who are on the road without insurance. If any one of them indulges in a reckless act that causes an accident, then the victim is entitled to recover damages. But the accident victim may have to rely on coverage from his or her own policy to pay for damages.

Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage is required in West Virginia. Motorists must carry $20,000 in bodily injury liability per person and $40,000 per accident. Another $10,000 property damage coverage is required under UM coverage on the policy.

Medical payments coverage is not required, though motorists may opt to include it on their policy for added protection in case of an accident. This type of coverage can pay for medical treatment regardless of fault after an accident.

In some cases, the victim has to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover compensation for damages from the at-fault driver.

When the At-Fault Driver Has Sustained Losses

If the at-fault driver has sustained losses in the accident, then that driver’s auto policy may cover the costs of repair and/or replacement provided he or she has collision coverage. Collision coverage is a no-fault coverage, which means that the insurance company will pay for the damages irrespective of who is at fault for the accident.

The at-fault driver’s medical payments coverage may also provide coverage of the policyholder’s injuries, as it is available regardless of fault as well.

Complications that arise when trying to recover damages from the at-fault driver’s insurance company may prompt many plaintiffs to seek the help of auto accident attorneys. The Miley Legal Group knows how to negotiate with insurers and carry out the complex task of gathering and analyzing evidence to build a case that establishes fault and damages.