When you are injured in a car accident in Alaska, recovering your losses requires proof of liability. While medical payments (MedPay) insurance provides no-fault coverage, not everyone has MedPay; and, even if you have this insurance, your policy will only cover a small fraction of the costs of a serious injury.
There are many different ways to prove liability after a car accident in Alaska. Distracted driving, drunk driving, and speeding are just a few of the most common examples. But, while there are many ways to prove liability, there are many possible defenses to liability as well, and the insurance companies work hard to deny accident victims' liability claims by all means available.
How Can You Overcome Defenses to Liability After a Car Accident in Alaska?
When faced with the consequences of someone else's negligence, it is important to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to represent you. If it is not too late, you should hire a lawyer before you start dealing with your insurance company. But, if you have already filed a claim – and if you are struggling to secure compensation – a lawyer can still help you, and you should schedule a free consultation as soon as possible.
Here are 10 common defenses to car accident liability—and examples of what a lawyer can do to help you recover the compensation you deserve:
1. You Were at Fault in the Accident
One of the most common insurance company defense tactics is to blame accident victims for their own injuries. If you were at fault in your accident, then you are not entitled to financial compensation (although you can still file a MedPay claim, as noted above). But, in many cases, there will be evidence that points to the other driver being at fault, and your lawyer will be able to collect and present this evidence in order to help you recover.
2. You Failed to Adequately Maintain Your Vehicle
In addition to accusing accident victims of making driving errors, insurance companies will also often try to blame victims for failing to adequately maintain their vehicles. For example, the insurance companies may argue that your brakes or tires were too worn to be safe on the road. However, your lawyer may be able to prove that either: (i) your vehicle was in a reasonably safe condition; or, (ii) the accident would have occurred regardless of your vehicle's condition.
3. Someone Else was at Fault in the Accident
Beyond blaming victims, the insurance companies will often try to blame other parties as well. If anyone else was at fault in your accident, then the other driver's insurance company is not liable for your injuries. Your lawyer can determine whether the insurance companies' position is legitimate, and he or she can pursue all available claims on your behalf.
4. You Lied about the Accident or Your Injuries
Another common defense tactic the insurance companies use is to accuse accident victims of submitting false information in support of their claims. Submitting false information is a form of insurance fraud, and it can serve as justification for denying coverage. If the insurance companies are claiming that you misrepresented the circumstances of your accident or lied about the cause of your injuries, your lawyer can work to overcome these allegations—and potentially even seek additional compensation for insurance “bad faith.”
5. You Suffer from a Pre-Existing Condition
Even if you have a pre-existing condition, you are still entitled to compensation for the effects of your car accident. However, many insurance companies will attempt to deny coverage to accident victims whose records show that they had pre-existing medical needs. This is not appropriate; and, if you are denied coverage on the basis of a pre-existing condition, your lawyer can fight to secure compensation for your additional costs, pain and suffering, and other losses.
6. You Did Not Follow Through with Your Medical Care
If you fail to follow your doctor's advice after a car accident, the insurance companies may try to deny coverage on the basis that your medical costs no longer arise directly out of the collision. While this can be a legitimate basis for denying some coverage, it will often be possible to overcome these types of denials as well.
7. You Did Not Submit Sufficient Evidence of Liability
When you have an insurance claim, it is up to you to prove your right to coverage. While the insurance companies have a duty to investigate, they do not have to build your claim for you. As a result, one of the most common reasons for insurance claim denials is insufficient evidence of liability. If your claim is denied on this basis, your lawyer can use the available evidence to prove liability and establish a claim for damages.
8. You Did Not Submit Evidence of Your Losses
In addition to proving fault, you also need to prove how much you are entitled to recover. If the insurance companies admit liability but refuse to agree to a fair settlement, this may be because you have not adequately proven the extent of your losses. Your lawyer can work with you and your doctor to calculate the financial and non-financial costs of your injuries, and then he or she can negotiate to secure a fair settlement without the need to go to trial.
9. You Did Not Pay Your Insurance Premiums
If you are seeking compensation under your own insurance policy (i.e. through an uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) claim), another possibility is that your claim will be denied for non-payment of premiums. While this can be a valid defense in some cases, there are many circumstances in which non-payment of premiums is not a justification for denying coverage.
10. You Waited Too Long to File Your Claim
Under Alaska law, you have two years to file a lawsuit after a car accident. Additionally, most insurance policies require drivers to file their claims within a “reasonable” amount of time. If your claim is denied on the basis that you waited too long to file, your lawyer can examine the facts of your case and determine if you still have grounds to pursue coverage.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Anchorage Car Accident Lawyer Eric Derleth
Do you need help with your insurance claim following a car accident in Anchorage or Soldotna? If so, we encourage you to get in touch promptly. To discuss your claim with accident lawyer Eric Derleth in confidence, call 907-262-9164 now.