Liability coverage under auto insurance policies differs from state to state, making the filing of a claim for personal injuries dependent upon the type of coverage that applies in the state where the accident occurred. In the state of Washington, personal injury law applies to both first party and third party claims, depending on the auto coverage carried by a person at the time of an accident. Knowing the difference between these two coverages is important for anyone who has been injured in an auto accident; however, when a claim involves serious injury, it is always best to seek the help of a personal injury claims attorney. A lawyer experienced in this particular area of the law understands different insurance coverages and can help an accident victim seek a fair and reasonable claim settlement.
What Is First Party Auto Liability Coverage?
Where referring to an auto insurance policy, a “party” refers to the relationship a person has with an auto insurance company. A person who has a policy with a company for which they pay an insurance premium has a first party relationship with that company. There are different types of first party or no-fault coverages that can be carried on auto insurance policies, including:
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP) – This coverage applies to the policyholder and any passengers in the covered auto, a pedestrian hit by the policyholder’s vehicle, or when a policyholder is injured in another car.
- Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) – These liability coverages apply to the policyholder and any passengers in a covered auto. These coverages pay for property damage or physical injury incurred by a policyholder from an at-fault party who does not carry any Third Party Liability coverage. UM applies when no insurance is carried by the at-fault party. UIM applies when the at-fault party does carry liability coverage; however, the injuries incurred by the policyholder were so serious that the applicable liability coverage was insufficient.
According to those knowledgeable about personal injury law, first party liability covers the policyholder, those injured in the policyholder’s vehicle, or a pedestrian hit by the policyholder’s vehicle.
What Is Third Party Auto Liability Insurance?
Third party auto insurance is liability coverage provided by an insurance company to a policyholder that covers another or “3rd” party involved in an auto accident. When an accident is deemed to be the fault of an insured driver, that person’s insurance policy liability coverage pays for resulting property damage and physical injuries that were incurred.
How 1st and 3rd Party Coverages Apply
How 1st and 3rd party coverages apply are relatively easy to understand. First party coverage is a contractual obligation between an insurer and an insured. Third party coverage does is not a contractual obligation to a person making a claim. Payment is made based on a determination of fault and is made to a third party making a claim against that policy. In some cases when liability is not clear, first party coverage will make payment on behalf of their insured due to their contractual obligation and seek reimbursement from the at-fault party and their insurance carrier. Needless to say, seeking the counsel of experienced personal injury claims attorneys can be the best way to assure that all of these issues are properly resolved.
Fault Determination Issues
Determining fault is not always as clear as it might appear to involved parties; yet it is vital to determine who is at fault in an accident to receive a fair and equitable settlement. This often requires the experience of a personal injury claims attorney to sort out the various fault issues and present a claim for damages under a Third Party Liability Coverage policy. It is not uncommon that an insurance claim filed with a company for payment ends up becoming part of a lawsuit, leaving it up to the court to determine who will be responsible for payment. In the State of Washington, a first party insurance company that files a claim for reimbursement of payments made on behalf of a policyholder from a third party company is responsible for paying a pro-rata share of any attorneys fees and costs .
Understanding first and third party auto insurance liability coverage and personal injury law in Washington State can be confusing. To receive appropriate payment, it is recommended that a person injured in a car accident enlist the help of an experienced personal injury claims attorney. With such assistance to deal with first and third party liability coverage claims, a person injured in an auto accident can hopefully obtain a fair and reasonable settlement for their personal injury claim.
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