Car accidents cause unnecessary stress and anxiety, sometimes during the most inopportune moments of our lives. Whenever there’s a car crash, insurance companies must determine who was at fault for the accident, which is helpful when determining who pays for the costs of repair, healthcare, and pain and suffering. In some cases, multiple parties may be responsible for different percentages of fault.
Insurance companies will scramble to get all the relevant information needed to determine who was at fault for the accident and who has to pay the costs. While insurance companies may intend to look out for their customers’ needs, they are also looking to avoid fraud and other unscrupulous actions. That may cause them to take certain statements or evidence out of context, which can affect your case. Here’s everything you need to know about determining fault in a car accident.
If You Are Not Sure Who Was At Fault
If you aren’t sure if you were at fault or not, don’t assume or give any indication that you are culpable for the accident. Admitting responsibility for a crash too early can ensure you don’t receive your deserved compensation for car damage and medical expenses. You may be unaware of details that were responsible for your accident such as unsafe road conditions or mechanical issues.
It’s best to let insurance companies work it out amongst themselves on who was at fault after you give them the requested information about your case. Regardless of who’s fault it was, you can turn to a car accident attorney to help protect your rights and get you the maximum compensation possible.
Determining Fault by Location of Damage
Insurers will more than likely take a physical look at the damage caused by the crash by requesting images or visiting in person if there’s an available claims adjuster nearby. Analysis of the car damage can paint a picture of how the accident happened and which party’s to blame. It’s important to get names of witnesses, take pictures and video, and immediately call the police after an accident to start building your insurance case.
Vehicle damage isn’t the only evidence considered when determining liability, but it’s a crucial component that helps claims adjusters. Car damage indicates which direction a vehicle was traveling, but doesn’t tell the complete story. Here are a few ways of how determining fault by location of damage may be used and also hard to assess:
- Damage to the passenger side of a vehicle can be a telling sign of who was at fault in a car accident. More than likely, the person who rammed into the side of a car is at fault than the person with the rear-side damage, but this isn’t always the case.
- Rear-side damage toward the front end of a vehicle and on the other’s driver’s side is a bit trickier to determine fault for. Initial theories might suggest that the person with damage to the front end of the vehicle was at fault. The location of the damage could also mean that the other car pulled out of a driveway too quickly for a driver to notice.
- When a car is making a left turn and you are going straight, where the damage is can affect who is at fault. Damage to the front left side of your car can mean that you tried to swerve out of the way. Damage to the right rear corner of the turning car could mean that you were the one who was being negligent.
If You Know It Was Not Your Fault
No matter good of a defensive driver you are, there’s always the possibility of getting in a car accident due to negligent drivers on the road. Even if you know that an accident wasn’t your fault, it may still not be clear to the police or insurance claims adjusters. Acquiring the necessary information can improve your chances of being reimbursed for the damage you experienced.
How to Prove You Are Not at Fault in a Car Accident
Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to ensure that the right person is found at fault for the accident. A personal injury lawyer can help when cases get complicated, but there are also many things you can do to prove you were not at fault. If you’ve been in a car accident that’s not your fault, there are a few things you should know.
- For one, you should stay calm and call the police, which can help your insurance claim. A detailed police report will contextualize the accident and include relevant information such as weather and their opinion about how the accident transpired. A police report is one key piece of evidence that can bolster your insurance claim.
- You can also research traffic law that may have been violated by the other party that caused your accident. Looking through your local DMV rules can shine a light on negligence such as speeding, failing to yield, and running a red light or stop sign.
- If you have rear-end damage, you’re more than likely not the person at fault for the accident. Cars are supposed to leave enough room in between them to avoid sudden stops. Read end damage is indicative of a driver driving too closely behind.
If You Know It Was Your Fault
Car accidents can be stressful, even if you were the one at fault for the crash. Knowing what to do right after the accident can help you with your insurance case. For one, experts recommend you don’t readily admit you were at fault for an accident. Often, drivers don’t have the complete set of details during the chaos to determine who the source of the crash.
Should You Admit Fault to Your Insurance Company?
Regardless of who was at fault, you should always call your insurance company immediately after calling the police first. While your insurance company can provide assistance and compensation for vehicle damage and medical costs, they can also deny your claim if presented with damaging evidence. It’s important to give your insurance company basic information about your accident while ensuring you don’t come off as being responsible for the accident.
Insurance companies are tasked with determining fault based on the evidence given to them which may include witness testimony, photographs, police reports, and other pertinent information. There may be some unknown information that is at play. Admitting fault could jeopardize your case and your compensation before all the details are in.
If you’ve been in a car accident, don’t hesitate to speak with a knowledgeable attorney that can guide you through the tumultuous process of filing your claim. Reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney to learn if you are eligible for compensation for your lost wages, car damage, and medical expenses. You don’t have to go through the inconvenience of dealing with a car accident by yourself.
Since 1992, our personal injury attorneys at the Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, APC. have been fighting for the people of San Diego. Now, when those injured in automobile accidents – including car, truck, and motorcycle accidents – need financial help, or for the families that need to know that the loss of a loved one could have been prevented, there is a personal injury law firm in San Diego that is on their side. If you or a family member has been injured, call the lawyers at Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, APC. There’s never been a better time than right now to speak to a personal injury attorney—FREE of charge. Call us at 858-551-2090 or request a free consultation online today!
SENIOR PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY & FIRM FOUNDER
Michael Pines is a former insurance company attorney who graduated from the University of California Hastings College of the Law in 1987. While he was an insurance attorney, he learned from behind the scenes how insurance companies work and how they decide how much to pay injured people. Now that he works against insurance companies, Michael’s inside knowledge has resulted in significant benefits to his clients injured in car accidents. Learn more about Michael Pines