​What Happens When You’re at Fault for a Car Accident?

Suppose you are in a car accident and the other driver or police report says you are at fault. Many car accident victims assume they have no options in these situations, but that is not the case. While fault is a crucial factor in car accident claims, it does not prevent both parties from obtaining compensation.

Even in a claim of partial fault, compensation options exist. The laws will vary depending on your residence and insurance policy. You must call a lawyer to review your case and discuss your legal options when someone says you caused an accident.

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What Does Fault Mean?

Many accident victims are unfamiliar with the term fault, especially in legal spaces. Essentially fault means one party is to blame for the accident. The premise of fault is critical in personal injury cases, especially car accident claims. A negligent driver will bear some or all of the blame for an accident and be the party who has to pay damages incurred.

Some examples of driver negligence that result in an accident are:

  • Speeding
  • Ignoring right of way
  • Driving under the influence
  • Using a phone or device while driving
  • Failing to maintain vehicle equipment such as the brakes

Fault is a very critical element of car accident cases. Whoever is at fault for an accident is liable for the costs of medical bills, car repairs, property damage, lost income, and more.

Proving Fault

Since fault is so important, you must be aware of how you and your attorney will prove fault. Proving fault is interchangeable in this circumstance for disputing fault. The road rules will be crucial such as who had the right of way and how the street lights were indicating. Another essential factor in proving fault is evidence from the scene.

Some evidence you can present to prove responsibility includes:

  • Witness accounts
  • Police reports
  • Videos and photos
  • Traffic tickets
  • The damage to your vehicle

There is other documentation you can provide, like vehicle maintenance records and driver cam footage, if applicable. When you meet with an attorney in your area, they will discuss what evidence you can gather and how it will affect your claim.

Who Determines Fault?

There are five ways to determine fault after a car accident. The worst way to determine fault is by pointing fingers at each other. The driver will say it’s your fault, and you say it is theirs. In some cases, drivers will be so out of sorts that they blame themselves.

Never admit fault or make statements that you should have seen the stop sign. Any comments you make will come back to haunt you. It is also true when speaking to the insurance company, do not tell them that you may have taken a stop sign.

Another way to determine fault is through a police report. The officers have an unbiased opinion because they have nothing to gain from either party being at fault. They will conduct a preliminary investigation and talk to the drivers and witnesses to file a report about what they believe was the cause of the accident.

Police reports, while unbiased, do not always paint an accurate picture of the accident. If there are any discrepancies on the police report, you must inform your local auto accident attorney.

The third way to determine fault is to let the insurance company figure it out. Depending on how your insurance company works, they will ask you to provide pictures and details of the accident. They will then use a complex algorithm that will spit out who it thinks was at fault for the accident. Sometimes the algorithm will work in your favor, and other times it will not.

One rare way to determine fault is arbitration. The insurance company hires an outside source to look at the details, allowing them to decide. The arbitration method reduces the number of lawsuits the insurance company faces. While this method helps the insurance company, it does not always benefit the drivers.

Most auto accident cases do not make it as far as trial. Common cases resolve during pre-litigation, but for those that do not, your future will be in the hands of other parties. Only severe cases involving substantial money or life-altering injuries will make it to litigation and resolve at trial. Cases will also go into litigation if there are issues determining fault. In especially contentious cases, fault will be up to a jury of your peers.

Remember that although any of these parties can determine fault, you can consult with a nearby car accident attorney and fight the outcome. Other parties can attempt to place the blame on you so that they do not have to issue the compensation you deserve for your injuries. When you have legal representation, it is harder for any party to blame you for the accident improperly. Even when the fault is on you, there are options to obtain compensation from other parties in the accident.

Will Insurance Rates Go Up After an Accident?

Insurance companies are not happy to pay for damages and losses in an accident. Even if you have never been in a crash and have been with your current insurance company for years, your insurance rates will go up. When the fault is on you, the insurance rates will increase exponentially. It is essential to dispute fault and not allow a negligent driver to get away.

The insurance company will raise rates when their insurer has a serious responsibility in the accident, the injuries are severe, and they have to pay a substantial amount for the claim. Even a minor accident can raise your rates. The insurance rates will continue to be higher for three to five years, depending on your insurance company.

When you were not wholly at fault for an accident, you should not have to suffer financially for years to come. The rates will go up when you renew, and you should discuss the possibility with your insurance carrier. The insurance adjuster can also tell you how long the rate increase will be. You can ask for a discount and shop around, but the best way to avoid higher rates is to dispute fault with the help of a nearby car accident attorney.

At-fault and No-fault States

There are two ways that courts handle fault, depending on where you reside. While complex, you will need to discuss your options with a local car accident attorney to determine how fault works in your state. Those who live in a no-fault state will have their expenses and other losses paid by their insurance company. However, when you use this option, you can not file a lawsuit against the other party.

The only exception to suing the other party is when your medical expenses exceed the threshold your insurance company establishes. In at-fault states, you will also have additional policy provisions you can purchase. Remember, you can only add these provisions before an accident to get coverage.

In at-fault states, the legal process looks slightly different. Instead of working solely with your insurance company, you will work with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. When the fault is tricky, you may need to work with both insurance companies.

Thankfully, you will not need to worry about which insurance company you need to work with; your nearby car accident attorney will determine how fault works in your state and, more specifically, your case. Once they decide who to work with, they will take it from there. Some states will have both options available to drivers. Again this will all depend on where you reside and your insurance policy.

Protect Yourself

The best way to protect yourself is not to admit fault to anyone. Another way to protect yourself is to speak with an auto accident attorney near you. While you may think your case is a lost cause, your attorney can review the facts and find ways to garner a favorable outcome.

Do not discuss your activities before the car accident or be opinionated on who you think is at fault. Do not contact the other driver after an accident. Their contact information is solely for legal purposes. While you may want to blame them, do not try to ask them what they were doing. You should be honest with your attorney from the beginning about everything involving the collision.

What Damages Can You Recover in a Collision?

You are eligible to file for damages for your losses after an accident.

Depending on your insurance policy and the accident details, you can obtain damages for:

  • Lost income
  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property repairs and losses

These damages are available for both parties in an accident. Who pays the damages will range depending on various factors. The insurance company can reduce damages in some cases where fault is an issue.

An Assumed Fault is Not Actual Fault

Remember to stay calm through the entire process. A preliminary investigation can determine you to be at fault, but that does not mean you are actually at fault or cannot file to obtain compensation for your losses.

You can fight an assumed fault accident, but you must have substantial evidence and adequate legal representation. When disputing fault through the insurance company, you will need to go through a fault dispute process. You will need to provide new evidence that you are not at fault or should have a reduction in responsibility.

When the police report does not correctly state what happened at the scene, you can contact the police department and request a police report addendum. Of course, you should not try to take these legal steps alone but should discuss the possibilities with your nearby auto accident attorney. Chances are they have a plan or have already taken steps to dispute fault.

What to Know About Fault

There are some legal considerations to remember regarding the fault. When a driver does something or fails to do something, they can be the at-fault party in a claim. The insurance company pays for settlements and losses. Depending on your policy and the laws where you reside, compensation from the insurance company will vary. Insurance companies will conduct investigations and determine who they believe to be at fault for the accident.

Depending on your insurance company, policy, and other factors like the details of the accident, your insurance rates can go up after an accident. There are reports of insurance rates increasing by 41 percent in some instances. You do not want to pay more and should not when you have legal options.

A Lawyer Can Review Your Case

Fault and negligence are complex in car accident claims, so it is critical to have a nearby personal injury attorney review your case. Upon further examination of your accident, your attorney may find that you have legal options or that there is a viable way to dispute fault.

An attorney can help you in several ways:

  • Investigating the crash
  • Presenting you all of your legal options
  • Answering your questions
  • Giving you an overview of the possible outcomes
  • Filing court documents
  • Work as a liaison between you and the insurance company
  • Gathering evidence
  • Represent you through the legal claims process

You will need immediate legal guidance if the other party, police report, or insurance company places unnecessary or additional blame on you. There are several ways that the insurance company can choose to pay for the losses in an accident, especially when fault is blurry.

Having an attorney and substantial evidence can help get you the compensation you need for your damages. Nearly all accidents will result in losses for both parties, and each party must recover the payment they need to move on from this event. You may use your insurance policy or the other party’s—it will all depend. Do now wait to contact an auto accident lawyer near you and discuss your options.

July 17, 2022
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