When you are the “first party” and an accident claim is filed against you

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Don’t make any commitments to the other party; call your insurance company and let them talk

So far, we’ve looked at the auto accident liability remedy options in detail. Now what if you have an auto liability insurance policy and a claim is filed against you?

This assumes that your vehicle was involved in an accident and someone is injured, or that their vehicle or other property was damaged in the incident.

Before any consideration, you must make sure that any injured person receives immediate medical attention. However, do not offer any monetary assistance or promise that it will be injury, death, or damage. This could amount to admitting liability and may compromise your insurance company‘s ability to handle the case. This is in fact an express condition of your TP insurance contract.

Notify the police and share both parties’ personal contact details, vehicle registration details and other information. Call your insurance company and they will walk you through the next step and formalities for the likely TP claim against you.

You can also file a claim for “own damage”.

If it is just an injury or damage to the vehicle, there would be some “helpful” suggestions for resolving it between you, bystanders or friends and family. My advice is to choose the formal path. The injured party will file a complaint, a first information report (FIR) will be recorded by the police and all the procedures described in these columns above can be observed. Your presence would be required at the police station depending on the nature and extent of the injuries.

Once your insurance company is in the picture, you can breathe a sigh of relief. This is the real value of TP insurance. Document them and let them take the case to the Traffic Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) and make negotiated settlements where permitted. You don’t have to look for a lawyer, pay attorney fees, or go to court. In fact, insurance companies are cautious and won’t even let the litigant’s lawyer come into contact with you. If someone does, be sure to let your insurer know in writing with all the details.

In the event of bodily injury or death of a third party, the liability of the insurance company is unlimited. This means that the entire MACT award or court ratified negotiated settlement would be paid by your insurer. In the event of third party property damage, the limit of police liability is 7.5 lakh. If the court awards anything more than that, you have to pay out of pocket.

As with anything related to insurance, caveats apply. Your TP insurance must be valid. Your driver’s license, or that of the person who drove the vehicle at the time of the accident, must be valid.

The person driving should not have been under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and the vehicle should not have been used for illegal purposes. It must also not be used for purposes other than those for which it was designed, which will be part of your insurance conditions. For example, using a passenger car as a utility vehicle.

In these cases, the TP police will not be responsible, but the responsibility will lie with the owner of the vehicle.

(The writer is a business journalist specializing in insurance and company history)


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