Hurricane Doesn't Get You Off The Hook For Accident
Question: What covers damage I did to others while evacuating from the hurricane? Traffic was ridiculous, and I slightly tapped the car in front of me. We didn't call the police but did trade information. Will I be held at fault for this incident or can it just be listed as an accident due to extenuating circumstances without placing fault?
Answer: Whether you're on a casual Sunday drive or trying to outrun a hurricane, you're expected to act as a reasonable driver. You are always responsible for your actions when you drive.
If floodwaters had swept your car into another vehicle, or a something of that nature had occurred, then your insurer might chalk the incident up to an “act of nature” because what happened was out of your control.
However, in your situation it sounds as if you were in control of your car, just that traffic was bad and you misjudged your stopping distance. This would be negligence on your part as a driver; thus you normally will be found at fault for the accident by your car insurance company and possibility your state.
If you hit another car due to your own negligence, your liability insurance coverages can be claimed against by the other driver and the incident can be listed as “at-fault” on your insurer's claims history (C.L.U.E. report).
Luckily, insurance companies don't normally require a police report for a minor incident like yours, so your property damage liability should cover the damage the other car sustained when you hit it during the evacuation. If anyone in the other vehicle were injured, then your bodily injury liability will cover the injuries.
Both your property damage liability and bodily injury liability will cover you up to the limits of your policy. If your policy limits are exceeded by this accident, you'll personally be on the hook for costs above your maximum limit amount.
If you live in a no-fault state, such as Florida, New York or New Jersey, then if the other party were injured their own personal injury protection (PIP) would be primary for their injuries -- instead of your bodily injury liability coverage. If you were injured in the car accident, you would file a claim under your own PIP coverage.
If your car was damaged in this slight fender-bender, then you would need collision coverage on your car to make a claim. Collision pays for the repairs of your vehicle when it hits another vehicle, minus your deductible amount that must be paid before your collision coverage benefits start up.
Not all accidents go on state driving records, especially if police weren't called. You will need to find out from your local Department of Motor Vehicles is the accident will be placed on your driving record and if fault with be noted. You also should check to see if you are required to file a police report with the state. Many states require a report be filed if the police didn't show up at the accident scene and there is property damage over a certain amount or any injuries.
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