Property insurance concept.

Do I Have to Use My Own Insurance
After a Car Wreck? 

Gerstner Adam Law   Sept. 29, 2022

Experiencing a car accident can be a traumatizing event, and if you’re lucky, you’ll walk away with only minor injuries. But, what about your car? Many people who’ve been in car wrecks feel burdened by the mounting repair bills they face and want to know how they’ll pay them.  

You may be wondering, “Do I use my own insurance to pay for car repairs after an accident?” or “Who pays for damages to my car after an accident?” By calling us at Gerstner Adam Law in Billings, Montana, we can answer all your questions and help you pursue the compensation you deserve. 

Montana Is a Fault State 

The first thing to understand about your options after an auto accident is how state law will affect who’s responsible for paying damages. Montana is what’s known as a “fault state” which means that whoever is at fault for the accident occurring is liable for paying damages. This is in contrast to a “no-fault” state where you would have to seek compensation through your own insurance policy regardless of who caused the accident. 

Many drivers in Montana find it helpful to work with a car accident attorney because in order to have your expenses covered, you’ll have to prove that the other driver was negligent, and this is not always a clear-cut process.  

You’ll first seek compensation through an insurance claim, and Montana requires all drivers to carry at least $20,000 in property damage coverage. But, if this isn’t adequate, you may also have to file a personal injury lawsuit. You must present evidence such as police reports, eyewitness testimonies, photographs, and medical bills, and your attorney can help you find, organize, and use evidence properly to maximize your chances for fair compensation.  

Lastly, Montana also follows a comparative negligence rule which states that fault can be shared between two parties in an accident. This means that if the other driver was found to be 80% at fault and you held the remaining 20% of the blame, your final compensation would be reduced by 20%. 

Options for Covering the Repair Expenses  

Typically, the at-fault driver’s liability coverage will be used to pay your repair expenses. In cases where the other driver was not carrying insurance, your own collision insurance would then have to be used.  

However, collision insurance is optional for Montana drivers, and if you do have to use it, you’ll likely be responsible for meeting your deductible before your policy will pay out. Another option would be to use your own uninsured motorist coverage. Lastly, you may have to pay out-of-pocket for your expenses and seek reimbursement by suing the other driver in court. 

Coverage Is Based on the Value of
Your Car  

No matter how the costs are covered, it’s worth noting that all insurance policies work in the same way in that they’re only responsible for repairs covered based on the value of the car. If your repair bills exceed the value of your car, it will be deemed a “total loss” and you’ll instead be paid the fair market value for your car. Repair costs can be quite high after an accident, and it’s not uncommon for cars to be considered “totaled” even if you think they’ve only sustained minor damage. 

Seek Legal Advice Today   

If you’d like to speak with a personal injury attorney about a recent car accident you’ve been in, reach out to us at Gerstner Adam Law. At our law firm, we can help you understand your options after an accident and help you pursue fair compensation. We’re located in Billings, Montana, but can serve clients in Glendive, Miles City, or Sidney.