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Who pays if I get in a car accident?

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Question: I was in a car accident a few days ago--the guy backed right into me while I was in line at Jack-In-The-Box. I tried to move my car away from his, but there really was nowhere to go. What happens now?

Answer: The most important thing for you to know is that your policy with your insurance company is a legally binding contract. That means both parties have certain duties they must perform. For you that means being truthful--both on your application and on claims--and also paying your premiums on time. For your insurance company, it means paying your claims when you have one.

For the sake of auto-insurance, Texas is a "comparative fault state." That means that one driver, or both drivers, can be at fault. For example, some insurance companies will try to assign blame to another driver simply by them being on the road. It's a ridiculous claim, of course, but insurance companies are in the business of making money and they try to save on paying claims wherever they can.

Texas law requires that you file a report within ten days of the accident if there was no police investigation and the accident resulted in over $1,000 damages, or resulted in injury or death. It does not sound like anyone was severely injured in your accident, but your property damage costs could easily be over $1,000 even in a minor fender-bender. If this applies to you and you have not already done so, make sure you file a report.

Next, your insurance companies will investigate the accident and determine who was at fault and to what extent. For example, if you are found to be 10 percent at fault, and the other driver was 90 percent at fault and you have $1,000 in damage, you would recoup $900.00 from the other driver.

Remember, too, that although the accident may have been minor, you can still sustain soft tissue damage to your neck and spine. It is wise to consult with a doctor right away, as well as an attorney who can help protect your rights to medical and lost wages.

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McKinney, TX 75071

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Huntington, WV 25701

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