If you are like most people, you drive your car on a daily basis, yet never really expect to be involved in a serious collision. However, even when you expect and hope to never be involved in one, it is important to be prepared for when and if the time comes. If you live in an area of the country where winters are cold, snowy, and icy, then you may worry about getting injured or causing injury in a vehicle accident and already feel prepared, but if you live in a warmer climate, the don't feel too confident that you will never be involved in an accident -- more vehicle accidents in the United States occur during the summer and fall than during the winter.
Now that you know how important it is for everyone in every climate to prepare for auto accidents, read on to learn two mistakes that could cost you big if you are ever involved in one and what to do instead.
1. Carrying "Minimum State Insurance Coverage" in an At-Fault State
If you live in a state that does not have a "no-fault" auto insurance law (only 12 states and the District of Columbia have no-fault auto insurance laws) then you likely know that you can personalize your auto insurance policy to obtain only the coverage you feel "you need." You likely also know that one of your options is to obtain only "minimum state coverage," also called liability, auto insurance.
The state minimum coverage varies greatly from state to state, and while some states require adequate levels of coverage, such as Maine, others require very little coverage, such as Louisiana. In Louisiana, the minimum auto insurance coverage by law offers you only $15,000 of personal injury coverage per person and $30,000 of personal injury protection per accident.
As you likely know, medical bills that can result from a bad auto accident can (and likely will) exceed $15,000. What happens if the driver or passenger(s) in the car you accidentally strike needs medical treatment that costs $100,000? They could, and likely would, sue you for the additional $85,000 and win the case easily with the help of a personal injury attorney. Of course, your medical bills and replacement of your vehicle would also not be covered at all.
If you typically obtain the state minimum insurance to save a few dollars every month, realize that you could end up paying much, much more than that out of pocket if you were ever to accidentally cause a bad car accident. Spending a few extra bucks each month to increase your coverage can save you a lot of hassle and money later.
2. Not Hiring a Car Accident Attorney to Negotiate with the Insurance Company
Whether you are at-fault for an accident or not, your insurance company or the company of the at-fault driver will need to cover all of your medical expenses, the cost of your vehicle repair/replacement, and other expenses related to your accident. (Of course, if you carry only liability insurance coverage and you are at-fault for the accident, then you will have to pay for your own expenses out-of-pocket or hire a car accident attorney to prove that you were not at-fault for it).
If you have never been injured in an auto accident before, then you, likely many other drivers, likely think that you will just call the insurance company and look forward to a full reimbursement of all of the expenses your insurance agency promised to cover or the at-fault driver's insurance company owes you. However, it is very important to know that auto insurance companies try their best to offer as little compensation as possible to those injured in auto accidents and then wait and see if they can "get away with it" or if the injured knows enough about auto accident law to know that they deserve more compensation.
The best thing you can do after an auto accident, whether you were at-fault or not, is to hire a car accident attorney to negotiate your auto insurance settlement. When the auto insurance companies speak to a customer's attorney who they know understands auto accident law, they are prepared to offer the injured much more compensation than they would have offered up front to the customer.
Even if you know you are a good driver and don't expect to ever be involved in a bad auto accident, it is important to always be prepared for one, because they are called "accidents" for a reason and they can happen to the best drivers. Avoid these two common mistakes that could cost you big if you are ever involved in one.