When a car accident is reported to the insurance company, the very first thing the insurer wants to determine is who was at fault for the accident. Because most states are considered At-Fault insurance states, determining fault will impact any compensation that is offered to the injured parties.
At Fault Versus No-Fault States
In a state where the insurance companies offer No Fault insurance, the cause of the accident is secondary to any other issues concerning the event. The insurance company is required to pay compensation regardless of fault in these states. However, in At Fault states, the responsible party must be over 50 percent responsible for the accident to be held liable for compensation.
The insurance company has many ways to determine fault in a vehicular accident. They will use eyewitness testimony, statements were given by the drivers, and the official police report to determine fault. They will then use this information to base their offer, if any, for compensation.
Sadly, this information can be very inaccurate. Ten eyewitnesses can tell ten different stories. Drivers involved in the event have been shaken up in the accident and cannot be held reliable. Police officers can only guess what occurred because they were not actually there when the accident took place.
This is why it is always necessary to seek legal representation from a car accident attorney when you have been involved in an accident. Your attorney can bring in an accident reconstruction specialist and recreate the event accurately using specific technologies for a near perfect result. This information can provide a scientific look at the accident and what really occurred based on facts. This protects the injured party and establishes true fault for the accident.
When The Accident Happens
When you are involved in a vehicular accident, you should refrain from ever accepting any fault for the accident when you are giving the report to the police officer. Many people just assume that they are partial to blame for the accident or they feel guilty because injuries occurred and assume part of the blame. This can greatly reduce your ability to receive compensation for your losses.
When you are giving your report to the police, unless you are absolutely positive about a fact, you should refrain from giving absolute statements. Answer questions honestly, but do not give extra information that may place the blame directly on your actions. Even stating simple things like “I believe my turn signal was on” can lead to the assumption that you are partially at fault. If you are not absolutely positive about a detail, you should simply reply that you are unsure what took place because you are shaken up from the accident.
When you speak to your car accident attorney, you can piece together the series of events that contributed to the accident. Your attorney can bring in reconstruction experts if necessary, and fault can be established in a logical and non-biased way.
There are other issues that must be considered when establishing liability for a car accident. Outside influences may have played a part in the events and must be accounted for when working with the insurer. Some of these factors may include:
- Road hazards, such as debris in the road that caused cars to swerve
- Road hazards caused by road crews
- Inclement weather conditions
- Mechanical failure of either vehicle
Other factors may also be considered when trying to establish fault. Your attorney will discuss with you what each of these additional factors will mean to your case and how they will impact your compensation.
Protect Your Rights
The most important thing that any accident victim should remember is that they will need to protect their rights as the injured party. Insurance companies can be difficult to work with when it comes to fairly paying claims, and many injured parties lose out on significant amounts of compensation from trying to deal with insurance adjustors on their own.
After you have been involved in a car accident and your injuries have been stabilized, it is important to speak with a car accident attorney. Your attorney will advise you of your rights under state law and what benefits you are entitled to as an injured party. They will also aggressively work on your behalf to ensure that the insurer provides a fair settlement for your losses.