A reader wrote in with this question: “If I have medical bills from an accident that I caused when I hit a parked car, can I get pain and suffering? I’m in California if that matters.”
There’s a quick answer to this question. Unfortunately, no, you cannot get monetary relief for pain and suffering if you caused an accident. So, why can’t you get monetary relief even though you’re in pain and incurring unplanned expenses? Because in order to be awarded relief, you must first sue someone. Since you were at-fault in this accident, you’d have to sue yourself — which isn’t possible.
Does It Matter if the Accident Involves a Parked Car?
Whenever an automobile accident happens, certain events usually take place:
- Someone calls the police or 911.
- Those police arrive, review the scene and file a traffic collision report.
- If anyone has injuries from the accident, they undergo medical exams.
- Drivers notify their insurance companies.
After these events take place, the determination of what happens next (financially speaking) is out of a driver’s hands. The respective insurance companies conduct their investigations and make determinations based on their policies, police reports, and state regulations.
It’s always worth noting if a car is parked when an accident occurs. That’s because it eliminates the need (if you live in an at-fault state) to determine who is at fault. Obviously, if a car is parked, it committed no moving violations and did not cause the accident.
Does It Matter Where I Live When I Hit a Parked Car?
The state in which you live always matters when it comes to car insurance liability. This is because when it comes to car accidents, there are two types of states: at-fault states and no-fault states. This reader who hit a parked car notes they live in California, which is an at-fault state.
This matters because in at-fault states, the person who caused the accident is responsible for any injuries and property damage. In other words, if you cause the wreck, you’re legally liable for covering costs that result from your accident.
If this reader lives in a no-fault state, their own insurance policy could potentially cover any car repair costs. But because there is no one else to sue in this case, even if the reader lives in a no-fault state, it’s almost impossible to receive other damages.
Which States Are No-Fault States?
There are currently 12 no-fault states:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
It’s important to remember, though, that not all no-fault states are the same. For instance, in Kentucky drivers have the choice between traditional tort and no-fault coverage. But in Michigan, each vehicle must carry a three-part, no-fault policy. This means Michigan drivers who hit a parked car can still get insurance to cover their auto repair bills.
Should I Hire An Attorney?
If you think you deserve damages after causing an accident, there are steps you should take to strengthen your case. The reader who wrote in with this question didn’t specify how long ago this accident happened. It’s also not clear if they went to the hospital after hitting the parked car or sought medical treatment later. Both pieces of information are crucial to establishing a solid car crash claim.
If an accident causes you physical discomfort or bodily injury, always seek medical attention as soon as possible. It’s also vital that you document everything. You can do this by taking detailed notes, and this car accident checklist will help you do that.
That said, you’ll also need supporting documentation from any witnesses or other affected parties. This might include medical professionals or police called to the scene of the incident.
It’s also wise to consult an attorney. For a parked car accident, however, be prepared for news that is the opposite of what you want to hear. Credible auto injury attorneys will be honest in their assessment of your potential case. If they don’t believe it has merit, then they won’t take it. This is because doing so would be both a waste of time for them and a waste of money for you.
It can be daunting to find attorneys who provide an honest and free auto accident case evaluation. All attorneys we connect people with work on contingency. This makes them more likely to only take cases they think are strong enough to win a cash settlement.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Complete your free online auto accident case evaluation now.
Lisa Allen is a writer and editor who lives in suburban Kansas City. She holds MFAs in Creative Nonfiction and Poetry, both from the Solstice Low-Residency Program in Creative Writing at Pine Manor College. Prior to becoming a writer, Lisa worked as a paralegal, where she specialized in real estate in and around Chicago.