How and who is responsible for my pain and suffering claim?

The party at fault left the seen but left their car. However, my insurer has not been able to locate them. I have full coverage, including underinsured and non-insured coverage. Damage to my property was $9,000 and that is not including my medical.

Asked on December 4, 2011 under Accident Law, Illinois

Answers:

Mike Harvath / Harvath Law

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

     Hi.  I am an Illinois personal injury attorney.  Auto accidents where one of the parties left the scene of the accident can be difficult and the description of exactly how the collision occurred in the police report is even more important than in a case where both drivers were present.  The insurance company of the other driver (assuming he/she WAS insured) can even try to turn and use the fact that the driver could not be located against you, by claiming that the person driving the vehicle that caused the accident was not a person covered under their policy.

     Generally speaking, you can obtain compensation for the property damage to your vehicle through your own insurance company.  However, if the vehicle driven by the other driver was an insured vehicle, your insurance company will raise a substantial fight in paying for any of your medical costs.  In the event that the vehicle of the other driver was not insured, you will have a claim under your own uninsured coverage for your medical bills.  Even though the claim is against your own insurer, it is no different than a claim against an adverse party.  In other words, your insurance company will need meticulous proof of all medical expenses, and will generally offer a bare minimum amount unless legal and medical arguments are properly presented.

     Any time an accident involves injuries that result in medical bills, it is advisable to obtain an attorney that has experience in quantifying your injuries, or, in other words, knowing the appropriate amount that your claim is worth, and what you should be entitled to, based on your future prognosis.

     I hope this helps, at least to an extent.  Thanks.

L.P., Member, Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Thank you for submitting your question regarding who would be responsible for a pain and suffering claim.  You should be aware that automobile accidents, and the laws governing them, will vary state to state.  Some states handle medical expenses as part of the motor vehicle accident, and as such, your medical claim would go through your car insurance company.  Even if you are not at fault, you can have your insurance company handle your claim.  In turn, your insurance company will attempt to subrogate (collect) the money they paid out from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. 

Your insurance company will likely be able to contact the at-fault driver, given they have the license plate of the vehicle.  Once they contact the driver, they can get his insurance information and proceed with handling the claim.  Of course, you will be limited to the policy limits of the other driver’s policy. 

Pain and suffering is not something that is usually handled as part of your insurance claim. Sometimes the at-fault driver’s insurance company will offer you a settlement amount to avoid a lawsuit, but that is not always the case.  Again, even this amount would be limited by the policy limits of the other driver’s insurance company. 

However, you can sue the other driver personally to recover any damages that were not covered by insurance and for pain and suffering.  If you need further assistance filing a personal injury you may want to contact a personal injury attorney in your area for assistance.

 


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