Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident?
September 10, 2018 – David Hahn
When you get in a car accident, you’re worried about your family, your car, and whether anyone was hurt. The last thing you want to think about is who is at fault. But one of the most pressing concerns for the police and your insurance is who is at fault in this car accident? If they decide that you were at fault, you may need to pay an increased insurance rate or even pay for damages by yourself.
States have varying laws when it comes to car accidents which makes it hard to know if you’re at fault in the accident. This article will help you find out if you’re at fault and how to protect yourself if you’re not.
What Are Your State’s Laws?
Why is it so important to understand your state’s laws? Some laws define what type of negligence determines fault, and others outline how much fault you need to have to pay for damages. To help you understand your circumstance we’ll briefly discuss the basics of these laws.
No-Fault States vs. Fault-States
The majority of states are fault-states or tort states. In these states, the person who is deemed at fault will usually have to pay for damages through their insurer. These damages may include property damage, repairs to the cars involved, medical expenses, and other losses.
On the other hand, states that have no-fault insurance laws require that each person’s insurance pay for their medical costs. People in those states may need personal injury protection (PIP). Personal injury protection is a type of insurance that pays for your medical expenses no matter who’s at fault in the car accident. No-fault states do require that the at-fault party pay for property damages.
Types of Negligence
States may use comparative negligence to determine whose insurance pays. With comparative negligence, people are responsible for whatever percent of fault they are estimated to have. For example, if you’re found to be 30% at fault in a car accident, and the other party is found to be 70% at fault, you may be able to get 70% of the damages from their insurance. Of course, this depends on the state’s laws regarding compensation.
Other states may use a modified form of comparative negligence. This form of negligence may limit your ability to file for damages depending on your level of fault. For instance, some states may only allow you to ask for compensation if you’re less than 40% responsible for an accident.
Still, other states may use a pure contributory negligence method of finding fault. Pure contributory negligence calls for no fault at all on the part of a party before they can ask for compensation. Under this method, any percent of responsibly is too much.
Use Police Reports
Police will often come to the scene of an accident and document what they find, especially if someone has been hurt. You can ask the police at the scene how to obtain a copy of the report, or you can go to the police station and ask. A police report is useful for legal matters as it’s an official, unbiased document.
What if the police do not show up at the scene of your accident? You can inform them of the details, and they may compile a report based on your statements, the other party’s statement, and their investigation. If you gather any evidence at the scene, such as pictures of the road conditions and car damages, they may include that in the report as well.
How to Protect Yourself from Fault
The first thing you should do after a car accident is make sure no one was hurt. You should then gather evidence about what happened. You can do this by taking pictures of the road conditions, the damages, and getting statements from witnesses of the accident. This evidence can be used by the police and your insurance to determine the facts of the case.
You should also avoid admitting fault at the scene of the car accident. The insurance company and possibly police will decide who’s at fault in the accident and they may uncover things you didn’t know. If you admit fault without knowing all the circumstances, you may be taking responsibility for something that wasn’t your fault. Even if you are at fault, you should let your insurance company and the police decide that, and have your insurance deal with it.
What to Do If You Are Injured
If you have been injured in a car accident, you may have substantial medical bills to pay and need to take time off work. If you need help paying for your medical expenses and the other party’s insurance won’t cover it, a personal injury attorney can help you get the compensation you need.
Robichaud, Schroepfer & Correia, P.A. has multiple personal injury lawyers that have experience with many personal injury scenarios. Contact us today for a free consultation.
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