Determining who is at fault in a car accident is especially important if you need your car repaired. The rules regarding fault differ according to each state. This is complicated by the fact that some states are “no-fault” while others are “fault” states. If the other driver is at fault and you reside in a “fault” state, then you will be compensated by the other driver’s car insurance company. Those who live in a no-fault state will be compensated for medical injuries by their own insurance company no matter who is at fault (property damage is still determined on a fault basis). Here is some important information to help you determine if you or the other driver are at fault in an auto accident.
Who’s at Fault in a Car Accident?
Determining who’s at fault in a car accident is determined by insurance companies in light of your particular state’s definition of vehicle negligence. If you live in a comparative negligence state, your liability is in direct proportion to how negligent you were in the crash. If the other driver is found to be 80 percent responsible for the crash, then you are only 20 percent financially responsible.
Other states use the concept of contributory negligence when determining fault and awarding damages. Financial damages are only awarded in pure contributory negligence states when one driver is totally at fault. If you were rear-ended but slightly at fault, you wouldn’t be entitled to financial compensation in a pure contributory negligence state.
Steps to Help Cover Yourself After a Car Accident
- Make sure the other driver in the accident has a valid driver’s license. See if there are any clues that they weren’t operating their car in a safe manner given the road conditions and the speed limit.
- Take notes on the accident. This can include writing down the details of how the accident happened, the number of passengers or any injuries. This should be a detailed account of what happened during the accident. It is best to write these notes while the accident is still fresh in your head.
- Take pictures of the accident scene. You can take pictures immediately after the accident occurs or while waiting for the police to arrive. The easiest option will be to use the camera on your cellular phone to take photos. You can also look for skid marks to photograph, which can show careless driving by the other driver.
- Look for eye witnesses. Someone who lives near the accident and saw it would be ideal. An eyewitness can provide a written or verbal testimony on what they saw. This first-hand report can help insurance companies and police find out who caused the car accident to take place.
- Obtain a police report. This is a valuable way to determine who is at fault after an accident. The police are trained professionals and will be able to decide who caused the accident and if there are any legal charges to be made against this person. A copy of this police report can be used in court or sent to an insurance company.
- Do not admit to any fault to police officers or the other party, even if you think you’re responsible. Let the record show whoever is at fault. Their may be circumstances that you’re not aware of that could put the other person at fault.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Whether you are at fault in the accident or not, make sure to keep your insurance company in the loop. The insurance company will require the greatest amount of your time after the car accident. You should keep your insurance information in the glove compartment of your car, even if your state does not require it. Record the vehicle identification number and license plate of the other vehicles involved in the accident. Contact your insurance company right after the accident. Give them the information that’s requested, including your description of what happened (with pictures if available) and the contact information for the other drivers. The time required for a settlement varies between insurance companies, although the best companies can settle a claim within a week or two.