When you get into a collision with another driver, you can make a claim for damages for your injuries and losses. Most car accident claims are paid by insurance companies (eventually). The damages are paid either by a settlement agreement or after there has been a court verdict.
When you are in a single-vehicle crash, the insurance company should still pay out on a claim. The difference is that this time, it’s your own insurance company which needs to pay.
But which one? The answer isn’t always simple. When just one vehicle is involved in a Mississippi car crash, the issue of which insurance company pays for which damages becomes more complicated.
There are several key factors that determine which type of insurance policy may cover your claim:
- Who was injured
- What caused the accident
- What type of insurance the defendant has
- Whether the injured victim has uninsured (UM) or underinsured (UIM) coverage
- Whether the injured victim has health insurance
- Whether the owner of the vehicle has collision insurance
That health insurance point is crucial, because sometimes hospitals will try to force you to give over your car insurance information instead of your health insurance. They cannot do this, however, and you have the right to use your health insurance if you are hurt in a wreck.
Claims by an injured driver in a single car wreck
There are several potential liable parties in single-vehicle crashes. The right to claim damages differs depending on their status. The driver of a car, truck, or other type of vehicle has different insurance remedies depending on the following:
- Whether a defective product caused the wreck. Say you are driving and one of your tires blows out, causing you to lose control of the vehicle and crash into a guardrail. Later, your attorney discovers that the tread separated from the tire, and that separation was caused by a tire defect. You can file a product liability claim to recover damages.
- Whether the crash occurred while you were working. If a driver is injured in a wreck during the scope of his or her job duties, then the driver could file a workers’ compensation claim. In a workers’ compensation claim, the driver is entitled to payment of his/her medical bills and a portion of his/her lost wages. The worker is not entitled to pain and suffering compensation.
- Whether someone else’s negligence caused the crash. The driver may have a claim against the following people/entities even if he/she was the only person harmed in the accident:
- A governmental entity. The state of Mississippi, a county, the Mississippi Department of Transportation, or other governmental entities may be liable for the accident and responsible for the defendant’s damages if the accident was due to negligent road design or maintenance. The insurance companies for these entities would then pay for any settlement or verdict – or the entity may pay the damages themselves.
- A seller of alcohol. Generally speaking, Mississippi has pretty loose social host/dram shop laws: you are responsible for your own actions, after all. But in some cases, a person who is injured – or the estate of a person who is killed – may hold the seller of alcohol liable:
The limitation of liability provided by this section shall not apply to any person who causes or contributes to the consumption of alcoholic beverages by force or by falsely representing that a beverage contains no alcohol, or to any holder of an alcoholic beverage, beer or light wine permit, or any agent or employee of such holder when it is shown that the person making a purchase of an alcoholic beverage was at the time of such purchase visibly intoxicated.
- A health insurance claim. As we said, the driver can use his/her own health insurance company pay for any medical bills covered by the healthcare policy.
- A collision claim. If the driver has a collision policy on the vehicle, then the driver can file a claim against his/her own company for the damage to the vehicle even if the driver caused the accident.
Insurance claims by an injured passenger, pedestrian, or bicycle rider
A passenger has the right to file a lawsuit against a driver for any negligent actions of the driver. One possible defense that may be valid is an assumption of the risk defense. If a passenger gets into a car knowing that the driver is intoxicated, the passenger’s claim may be denied.
Any pedestrian or bicycle rider who is injured by a negligent driver may file a claim against the driver for negligence.
In negligence claims, the insurance company for the driver and/or the owners of the car are responsible for the victim’s pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and any scarring or disfigurement. If the driver or owner did not have insurance or did not have enough insurance to cover the claim, then the victim may be able to file a UM or UIM claim through his/her own car insurance policy.
Passengers, pedestrians, and bicycle riders can also file claims against any of the other defendants that the driver could also file a claim against – product manufacturers, governmental entities, and sellers of alcohol.
The families of anyone who is killed in a single-car crash have the right to file a wrongful death claim against the same defendants as where negligence or product liability is the basis for the claim. If there is a recovery against the defendants, the corresponding insurance companies must pay the damages. The families of a deceased employee killed in a work-related driving accident may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
At Merkel & Cocke, P.A. our experienced Mississippi car accident lawyers fight aggressively to hold all responsible parties accountable. We explain which insurance policies cover your car, your medical bills, your pain and suffering, and your lost income. When insurance companies are being unreasonable, we’re ready to try your case before a jury of your peers. To assert your rights and seek compensation for your injuries or the death of a loved one, call our seasoned car accident lawyers at 662-627-9641 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free appointment. We represent drivers, passengers, and other accident victims in Jackson, Clarksdale, Oxford, Tupelo, and throughout the Gulf Coast Region.
Charles M. Merkel, III attended the University of Mississippi for his undergraduate and law degrees, graduating with honors from both. Upon graduation, he received the coveted position as a judicial law clerk for US District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, Jackson Division. Mr. Merkel joined Merkel & Cocke, P.A. in 2002, where he works with clients who have sustained serious injuries because of negligence, medical malpractice and defective products. He has received many honors, included being cited by Super Lawyers, National Academy of Personal Injury Attorneys, and Best Lawyers in America. Learn more about Charles M. Merkel, III.