Q: My wife just got in a accident with my 2 month old son in the car with a unlicensed driver who was only 15.
Our cars breaks didn't react fast enough to stop and they t-boned the car on the side my son was sitting. Everyone is fine, besides for bumps and bruises. I'm wondering what to do beyond filing with insurance, which has already been done? And what to expect?
A: I am very sorry this accident happened to your family. I am glad everyone seems fine--except for bumps and bruises. It is difficult to tell from this question who might be at-fault. If the brakes were not working due to failure to fix them, knowing they were in need of repair, that could be an issue. On the other hand, if the need to stop was based on the negligence of the other driver--i.e., pulling out in front of your wife and 2 month old son, then there could be a viable claim against the at-fault driver. Due to the age of the driver, there may be some liable to the legal guardian of the 15-year old. I could not tell if your wife and child were in the car with the 15 year-old driver. If so, your wife may want to be more careful than placing a child in a car with an young, unlicensed driver. There may be some more insurance available depending on the circumstances. If anyone in the accident was hurt enough to seek medical care, there should be 15K per person in Personal Insurance Protection (PIP). You should ask about a PIP claim from your insurance carrier, or if you don't have insurance, the insurance that you have reported to. It is accepted by nearly all doctors and hospitals. It would be important to ensure your child is thoroughly checked out by qualified medical professional. Your wife might want to discuss this matter with an attorney. They could help guide her through the process. If your wife and child have claims they could pursue, then she will know their rights, obligations, and hopefully you will all gain a little peace of mind.
A: Well you should work with your own insurance assuming you have the coverages you need. First, you have PIP (Personal Injury Protection) which will cover the medical bills for everyone in your car so you all can immediately start getting any medical treatment you need. You each have up to $15,000 in PIP benefits that can be used up to two years after the accident for reasonable and necessary medical treatment related to the accident. It doesn't matter who was at fault for this coverage and using it will not raise your rates.
Second, you will want to get your car fixed. Use your full coverage insurance and take your car to the repair/body shop of your choice. Do be aware that your insurance company will not pay to fix your car if the value of your car is low compared to the cost of the repairs. They may try to total your car. So if you have an older car and this could happen but you want your car repaired, then you may need to shop around and get estimates until you and your insurance company agree that they estimate is in the range they are willing to pay. (Don't drop your car off at a repair shop if you may need to shop estimates because once you drop your car off the repair shop starts adding on storage fees.) You may have to pay the deductible initially but your insurance company will go after the at fault driver and once they recover for the money they laid out they will usually also get your your deductible back.
Usually your insurance company will investigate and it is likely that this 15 yr old driver was driving a car that had insurance coverage. Often the insurance on the car will still cover the accident even though the person driving wasn't supposed to be driving. You will need to hire your own personal injury Attorney to follow up on this. Your wife and your son each have a case against the other driver for their personal injuries. It is a good idea to get a lawyer right away so they can gather information while the case is fresh. But there is time before the cases actually need to be settled. Your wife has up to two years from the date of the accident to resolve her claim against the other driver. You 2 year old son has longer then two years since he is a minor. The Attorney you hire can explain the statute of limitations timelines to your.
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