What if the other driver was at fault, but doesn’t have insurance? How will I pay my bills?
Well, to pay your bills initially, you will be able to use your PIP. But in addition to PIP, you will also have other coverage in your policy to cover expenses over $15,ooo.
In Oregon, every driver is required to have at least $25,000 in underinsured/uninsured motorist (UIM) coverage. This means that if someone who does not have insurance hits you, you can try to get compensation from your own insurance company. Keep in mind that the insurance company only has to pay $25,000 if that’s the maximum amount of coverage you paid for. We suggest getting higher UIM coverage, but you can read more here. For now, just know that in Oregon, if you have insurance, you have at least $25,000 in UIM coverage for bills.
What if I don’t have car insurance?
If the accident was your fault, and you do not have insurance, the other driver can try to make a claim against any of your personal assets for the damages.
If the accident was the other driver’s fault, you can contact their insurance company and ask to have them pay your bills. Unfortunately, if you do not have your own insurance, you do not have the benefit of personal injury protection (PIP), which would pay your bills initially until the other insurance company can begin paying. This means you may need to pay some of your bills out of pocket until the case is settled.
If the collision was not your fault, and you were driving without insurance, you can still receive economic damages from the at-fault driver’s insurance, but the law does not allow you to recover non-economic damages. That is your punishment for driving without insurance, even though the crash was not your fault.
You keep talking about car accidents. What if I was walking and got hit by a car? Do pedestrians get compensation?
Yes they do! If you were hit by a car, your accident is covered by the driver’s car insurance. Which means that you can file a personal injury claim with their insurance just like you would if you were hit while in your car. It is the same for bicyclists–if you are hit by a car while riding your bike, you can file a claim for compensation with the driver’s insurance company.
In addition, if you are walking or bicycling, and you are injured (but do not have health insurance) the at-fault driver’s PIP will be available for you to use for initial medical expenses.
If someone else is driving my car, like one of my kids, does my insurance cover their injuries if someone hits them?
Yes, your children and anyone who drives your car are covered under your insurance policy. This means that PIP will pay their bills, and that UIM coverage will be available if the at-fault driver’s insurance does not cover the injuries, property damages and wage losses.
If my car is totaled, but I still owed money on it, will my insurance pay off the note?
Unfortunately, they might not. It depends on how much you still owe on the car. The insurance company only has to pay the “actual cash value” of the car, which mean the amount it would cost to replace your car with one in similar condition. They will examine your car’s mileage, previous damage, tire wear, etc. to determine the actual cash value, but if you owe more money than this amount, you will not be compensated.
If your car is not totaled, however, and the insurance company only pays for repairs, you can file a diminished value claim as well. A diminished value claim, if successful, will compensate you for the loss in value to your car. For example, if you have a new car and another driver hits you, even if you get the car repaired the accident will have lowered the value of your new car–you can ask the insurance company to pay this difference in value.
I carpool. If I get into an accident, will my car be covered?
Yes, as long as you are not using your car to carpool for profit, your car is covered. For example, if you carpool to work, all your passengers are covered by your insurance policy. But, since you will be responsible for their injuries if you cause an accident, you may want to increase your liability coverage since you have more passengers. Just in case.
What if I am driving someone else’s car?
If you are not at fault, you’re fine– the at-fault driver’s insurance will cover your expenses and the damages. If you are at fault, then damages will probably be paid by the vehicle owner’s insurance. Be aware, however, that if you are not insured or are underinsured, you could be held responsible financially. Your own auto insurance should apply, though.
What about motorcycle accidents?
If you are in a motorcycle accident, pretty much all the same rules apply. You are responsible for damages if you are found to be at fault, but you can be compensated if the other person is at fault. Motorcycle policies are not required by law to include PIP, and they usually don’t. We recommend you pay extra to get PIP coverage.
The person who hit me was driving a company car. Can I sue the company?
Probably. You might be able to sue the company if the driver was using the car for company business. For example, if a construction company truck was being driven to a job site, the company might be liable. If the construction company employee was just driving the car on his own errands, his own auto insurance policy may need to cover the costs. Actually, in a case like this, you might want the company to be responsible for the damages because policy limits are usually higher for commercial vehicles.