Do You Have to Pay Your Deductible If the Accident Isn’t Your Fault?
By Chris Dixon
There are dozens of insurance companies in the U.S. that are available for drivers to buy insurance policies from. Every insurance company has its own unique policies and rules about deductibles. If you are involved in an accident that isn’t your fault, you might find yourself wondering who is responsible for paying your insurance claim deductible.
Speaking with your insurance agent or a car accident lawyer can provide you with answers about who is responsible for paying your deductible if an accident isn’t your fault, how ‘fault’ is determined in a car accident and what happens if you’ve already paid your deductible for an accident that isn’t your fault.
Who Pays My Deductible if a Car Accident Isn’t My Fault?
Insurance claims can be tricky. If a driver is found to be at-fault for the accident prior to you making an insurance claim with the help of your car accident lawyer, your insurance company will make the at-fault driver pay for your deductible. If fault has not been determined at the time that you file an insurance claim, your insurer might make you pay for your own deductible upfront.
Once someone has been found at-fault for the accident, your insurance company can reimburse you for the deductible you paid. Your insurance company will then attempt to recover the amount for your deductible from the negligent driver’s insurance company through ‘subrogation.’
If both you and the other driver are found to be at-fault for the accident, the amount that each at-fault driver will pay is determined by their percentage of fault in the accident.
What Happens If You Can’t Pay Your Car Insurance Deductible?
In most situations, even if you have a full coverage collision, you will have to pay a deductible, which is a specific amount of money you must pay out-of-pocket under your auto insurance policy before your insurance provider will pay any claims.
If you can’t pay the deductible amount after an accident, then you will not be able to take your car to a repair shop. If your car is already at a repair shop, then you must come up with the cash to pay for the repairs. If you can’t borrow the money, then the repair shop can place a “mechanic’s lien” on your vehicle, which means that they can legally retain possession of your car until the debt is paid.
How Do I Prove to My Insurance Company That I’m Not At-Fault for an Accident?
When a car accident occurs, one or both drivers will eventually be found at-fault for the crash. However, you can help prove to your auto insurance company that you’re not at fault by taking pictures with your cell phone, exchanging contact information with the other driver, calling the police, making a police report, talking to witnesses, and retaining an attorney.
This process is the same for all insurance companies. It doesn’t make any difference if you’re with State Farm or Geico.
There are many different reasons why a car accident can happen, but there is usually some type of negligence involved. Common types of negligent driving situations include:
- Speeding and striking another vehicle
- Distracted driving (texting, talking on the phone, changing the radio, etc.) at the time of the crash
- Driving under the influence (drunk, on drugs, etc.)
- Making an improper turn or lane change and causing a crash
- Running a red light or not stopping at a stop sign and hitting another vehicle
I Paid My Deductible But the Accident Wasn’t My Fault, What Should I Do?
One way or another, someone will have to pay for your deductible from an accident. If an accident isn’t your fault but you still paid your deductible on your car insurance policy, you can recover this money by including it in your insurance claim created with a local lawyer.
If the other driver is at-fault for the car accident and you have gathered accurate evidence from the scene of the accident, filed a police report and obtained a copy of your medical report, you can prove they are at-fault and recover damages from them with a car accident claim settlement.
If they refuse to pay your settlement or do not offer enough of a settlement, your lawyer can negotiate with the other driver’s insurance company to get the most for your case in compensation. If the other driver or their insurance company still won’t budge, you can take them to trial with the help of your car accident lawyer to recover damages.
How Long Does Deductible Recovery Take?
It is easy to recover your deductible after your car was hit by another car if you go about it the right way. Send your insurance company a copy of the police report and the name of the at-fault driver’s insurance company. This will verify all the necessary information and allow the insurance companies to coordinate the details of your deductible.
Do I Pay a Deductible if I Hit a Car?
You do not pay a deductible if you are at fault with respect to repairing the other damaged vehicle. To state another way, you will not pay a deductible if the owner of the other car makes an insurance claim against you. However, you may still have to pay a deductible if you make a claim for the property damage to your own vehicle if you were at fault for the cash.
Do You Pay Your Deductible Before or After Repairs?
While some companies will pay the repair shop directly, others will write you a check so that you can pay for the repairs yourself. In either case, the insurance company will first subtract your deductible and then process your claim.
Do I Have to Pay My Deductible to Fix Someone Else’s Car?
If the owner of the other car makes a claim against you, you do not pay a deductible to fix their car. If the other driver caused the accident, you would not pay a deductible because their insurance company will pay for the damages. However, if you decide to make a claim for damage to your own car, you will likely have to pay a deductible.
How to Get Your Deductible Waived
Your insurance company will waive your deductible if you add a collision damage waiver (CDW) to your insurance policy. Your insurance company will pay the deductible to get the repairs done if you have a CDW.
Why a Police Report Is so Important After a Car Accident
If you can’t get a copy of the police report, or if a police report was not made, your car insurance claim can be more difficult to establish. The police report is a great starting point for the subsequent investigation. Failing to file a police report can result in their being no proof that the car accident caused bodily injury or property damage.
If the other party leaves the accident scene, witnesses information is not recorded, etc, it can be very difficult to later prove the other party was at fault for the crash.
Consult a Car Accident Lawyer About an Accident That Isn’t Your Fault
The best advice is to always document the scene of a car accident. Failure to document the scene of an accident can leave the door open for an at-fault driver to not have to pay medical expenses or for damages they caused. You may be stuck with medical bills and the cost of repairs for a crash that you did not cause.
If another driver is not held at-fault for an accident you’re involved in but you weren’t at-fault for, you will still be held responsible for paying your insurance deductible. Having a car accident lawyer by your side can prevent this from happening.
They can also ensure you have taken all of the necessary steps to make sure the at-fault driver is held responsible for causing the crash, including paying your insurance deductible.
If you are ready to speak with a personal injury attorney about a car accident that you were involved in that wasn’t your fault, contact the Dixon Injury Firm for a free consultation to explore the different options that may be available to your case.
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Do I Have a Car Accident Claim?