Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 14, 2021

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In a nutshell...

  • If you have a personal injury claim on your auto insurance record, it can be used when determining your premiums
  • When referring to a third-party claims payout after a car crash, it is called a bodily injury claim
  • If you’re injured in a crash and file a claim for your own injuries, it could impact your rates if you were at fault
  • When you have an injury claim on your record, the surcharge for the claim could be higher than non-injury claims
  • You will pay a surcharge rate for a period of three years after an injury claim is closed

A high-speed accident can have a serious impact on the human body, even when it doesn’t appear that any damage has been done. It’s all about the transfer of kinetic energy and where it dissipates when you’re involved in a crash.

Today’s modern cars are designed with structural elements that will crumple when the vehicle is in a crash. The purpose of this design is for the car to absorb most of the energy so your body doesn’t have to.

Unfortunately, some of the energy will go into your body. This transfer of energy is why so many occupants are injured in high-speed accidents.

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What happens to the human body during an auto accident?

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Your body can absorb some energy without being severely injured. This is why boxers can go rounds being punched without being knocked down.

There is a threshold for how much energy that your body can absorb and that threshold is always exceeded when you’re in a vehicle traveling at high speeds.

Immediately upon impact, your collarbone will begin absorbing the most energy (if you’re wearing a seat belt). Most occupants break either their right or left collarbone.

From there, your ribs will break as your ribs begin to try to absorb the rest of the energy pulsing through your body. Broken ribs can affect the following organs:

  • Lungs
  • Spleen
  • Liver
  • Other delicate organs

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Internal Injuries Often Can’t Be Seen

From the outside looking in, someone may appear to be fine after they are involved in a fender bender. Unfortunately, a lot of people will classify the seriousness of their injuries based on how the injured party looks on the outside.

Some vehicle occupants walk away from an accident without a scratch. Not having a scratch doesn’t mean that the individual is not injured.

You may even have lacerations, broken bones, bruises, and bumps after a crash, but the internal injuries are often much more serious than what you see on the outside.

Many agents recommend seeing a doctor after you’re hit, even when you think that you feel fine. It is also the main reason why you should never say that you’re not injured at the scene of an accident.

Which insurance company do you file a claim against for your injuries?

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If you have lacerations or you feel sore after the crash, you should seek medical attention as soon as you can just to be sure there’s nothing seriously wrong.

When you see the doctor, the cost of the appointment and any treatment that the doctor orders will be covered by the other party’s insurance company if they were at fault.

If the other driver wasn’t at fault or they didn’t have coverage, you will have to depend on your own first-party benefits for coverage. Many agents stress the importance of buying additional protection when you’re setting up your policy.

Here’s when your own policy with pay:

  • Medical Payments Coverage  pays for your medical care and related expenses when you’re injured in or around a vehicle regardless of who is at fault for the loss
  • Personal Injury Protection pays for your medical care, loss of income, disability expenses, and more when you’re injured in an accident (only available in no-fault states or states with an add-on no-fault option)
  • Uninsured Motorist Protection pays for your own medical expenses, loss of income, and related expenses when you suffer personal injury after an accident with an uninsured driver

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If you file a personal injury claim, will it affect your premiums?

If you wind up filing a personal injury claim against either your own insurer or the other driver’s policy, you need to prepare yourself for the impact that it can have on your insurance premiums.

Going from paying $800 a year for coverage to over $1600 a year for the same level of protection can be a shock. You need to know when your insurer can penalize your and when it can’t.

Whether or not your personal injury claim is going to affect your rates depends on who is liable for the accident. Claims investigations are so important.

You should always cooperate with the adjuster and do your best to help your claims representative prove that you weren’t the cause of the collision.

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What happens if the other driver is at fault?

Once the investigation is concluded, the fault will officially be allocated. Sometimes the fault is shared and other times the other driver is 100 percent the cause of the incident.

If the other driver involved in the crash is at least 51 percent at fault, the case will be reported on your record as a not-at-fault claim.

When a claim is labeled as “not at fault,” it can’t affect your insurance premiums in the future.

It doesn’t matter if you file $50,000 worth of Medical Payments claims against your own policy or if you need to collect $100,000 in Uninsured Motorist benefits.

As long as the accident is the other driver’s fault, you can’t be surcharged or turned away for insurance solely because of the claim.

What happens if you are at fault for the accident?

If you were injured in the crash and you were also the negligent driver, you have no other option but to collect under your own policy.

As long as you have first-party coverage, you will have some protection to rely on to help pay for your medical care. If you do file a claim for your personal injury, this can affect your rates when your policy renews.

What happens if you’re negligent for someone else’s injuries?

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You can sigh in relief if you walk away from an accident without a scratch but there are no guarantees that the other party will be as lucky as you were.

Even when the occupants in the other car look okay there is a chance that they could turn around and try to seek compensation for personal injury weeks or months later.

If you were surely at-fault for the accident and the other driver winds up making a claim for personal injury, you can be surcharged.

A surcharge is technically a penalty assessed on your future renewals after you’ve filed a claim or you have been convicted of a moving infraction. The amount of the surcharge can range, but it will remain on the policy for a maximum of three years.

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How much will your policy go up after an injury loss?

Your auto insurance rates are bound to go up when you go from having a clean record to a blemished one. If you already have tickets or accidents, adding an injury claim to your record could actually lead to a loss of discounts or a loss of your policy.

You will have to request a quote through your insurer to see how much the surcharge will actually be based on your personal rating factors.

Personal injury claims will only impact your premiums when you were at fault. If your insurer has paid a Bodily Injury claim in the past year or so, you should shop around to see how much your rates could change.

Use our online rate comparison tool and request quotes that take your claim into account.