What Happens If I Am the One At Fault In A Car Accident?
You were just in an accident and it was your fault. You know that the at-fault driver is liable for the damages that result in most scenarios, but in some cases, determining fault and liability can be a challenge. You need to familiarize yourself with the state laws that apply to your situation, and then determine how to proceed with a claim for your damages.
First, you will need to call the police and make sure an accident report is filed. Second, your auto insurer should be notified of the incident as soon as possible, so they can provide the coverage that your insurance policy includes.
What Are the Differences In Fault Vs. No-Fault States?
When it comes to financial responsibility after a car accident, most states use a “fault” approach. This means that the driver who was at-fault for the crash is liable for the damages, so their insurer will take care of the losses incurred by passengers, other drivers, and anyone else suffering physical injury or property damage because of the crash. Damages or losses may include medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and mental anguish.
If the accident occurred in a “no-fault” state, the laws are written to require drivers to maintain personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. If you are involved in an auto accident, your coverage will take care of medical expenses and other losses suffered by you – as the policyholder – as well as some others that are covered by your insurance coverage. Regardless of who was to blame for the crash, your PIP will take care of your damages in a “no-fault” state. However, no-fault coverage does not apply to vehicle damage, so that depends on your insurance coverage.
Whose Insurance Do I File A Personal Injury Claim with After The Accident?
If you have been involved in an accident, there are three kinds of negligence that can also come into play. You will need to understand which kind of negligence is considered for accidents where you are located. Negligence, which also means fault, involves responsibility. When an accident occurs, it is because a driver acted negligently. The three different kinds of negligence are pure contributory, pure comparative, and modified comparative fault.
When pure contributory negligence is used, the driver can only recover damages from the other party if he or she was not at all to blame. This means they must prove they were 0% to blame for the crash. This means even if you were only 1% at fault, you cannot recoup compensation for your losses.
If pure comparative negligence is used, then you can recoup damage losses proportionate to your percentage of fault for the accident. In this scenario, if you were in a crash and you were 80% to blame for the accident and the other driver was 20% to blame, you can file a claim against the other party for 20% of your total losses. This means that if your losses total $10,000 and you were 80% at fault, you can pursue a claim against the other driver was 20% at fault, you can pursue a claim against the other party for 20% of the damages, which in this case would be about $2,000.
The third kind of negligence is modified pure comparative negligence, which follows the proportionate of fault much like comparative negligence, but it sets a threshold much like contributory negligence. The state sets the threshold, which is usually 50% or 51%. As an example, if the state threshold is 50% and you were 52% to blame for the crash, you cannot pursue a claim against the other party. If you were 50% to blame and the other driver was also 50% to blame, you can pursue a claim and recover half your damages.
What Should I Do After an Accident In Which I Am At Fault?
If you are at-fault for an accident, you should tell the responding officer exactly what happened. You will need to get a copy of the accident report for your records. You should also maintain any other supporting evidence regarding the accident, and, also, get statements from any eyewitnesses to the accident. This could help prove liability, and it could show how much responsibility falls on the other driver.
If you live in a state that uses pure comparative negligence or modified pure comparative negligence, you will want to get a claim underway against the other party. You will need to make sure you understand the proper procedures for pursuing such a claim, and you will also want to make sure you have all your damages itemized, so you can fully understand the value of your claim.
A personal injury attorney will be able to help you ensure your claim is filed in a timely manner and handled properly. Get a free case review today, so you can determine how to proceed with a personal injury claim after an auto accident in which you were at-fault.