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What to Do Following an Accident That Was Not Your Fault
The last thing you expected the day you drove down that road was to be in a car accident. But unfortunately, that is precisely what happened when another driver crashed into your vehicle. So now, you are wondering, “I was in a car accident that wasn’t my fault. What happens now?”
With car accidents being one of the leading causes of preventable deaths, your question is valid. But, unfortunately, you did not anticipate this traumatic event, especially if you pride yourself on being an excellent defensive driver.
Knowing what to do after a car accident that wasn’t your fault can save you time, money, and more frustration with legal issues. This article provides guidelines on what you should do after a car accident.
First Steps to Take After a Car Accident That Was Not Your Fault
You must take crucial steps after an accident. Particularly if the at-fault driver makes false statements or does not report the incident, these necessary steps will protect your interest.
1. Immediately Following a Car Accident
First, do your best to remain calm at the scene. Next, check to make sure you or any passengers are not injured. Finally, even if you do not feel immediate pain, get medical treatment from the paramedics.
Lastly, move all vehicles to the side of the road, if possible, to avoid obstructing traffic or causing another crash.
2. Gather as Much Information as Possible
Start collecting information at the accident scene. In cases where the accident was the other driver’s fault, evidence is the only thing you will have to prove what happened. They may never report the incident to their insurance company.
You cannot trust that they will do the right thing. Therefore, you will need to gather proof such as:
- Exchanging insurance and contact information with the other driver
- Gathering witness contact information and testimonies
- Taking pictures of the accident scene and vehicles involved in the crash
3. Never Admit Guilt or Wrongdoing
A car accident can leave you shaken, overwhelmed, and unsure of what will happen next. You might start talking to the other driver, police officer, and, later on, insurance companies. However, avoid the emotional urge to admit the accident was your fault.
A car accident lawyer may help you receive the compensation you deserve. However, admitting fault puts you at risk of losing any compensation for physical injuries and property damage. Accepting blame may also expose you to a lawsuit from the other driver.
You are never legally required to admit fault after a car accident. An admission of a fault makes it more difficult for an attorney to defend your rights. Statements to the police could be used against you, making it easier for an insurance company to deny your claim.
4. Contact the Police
Call the police after the accident even though you will collect your evidence. Filing a police report can give you more leverage when details of how the accident happened become questionable. The police report can also work in your favor when settling.
5. Record Accident Details in Writing at Home
Once you are safely home, record the accident in writing. Doing this as soon as possible after the accident helps to ensure you remember essential details that can make a difference between winning and losing a battle with the at-fault driver and their insurance company.
Considerations After an Auto Accident
Seek Medical Help
Car accidents can cause visible and invisible injuries at slow speeds. The full extent of your physical damage may not be immediately apparent. However, visiting the doctor for a comprehensive exam can reveal issues. Prompt medical treatment is crucial to your health.
Also, documented physical injuries can support your personal injury claim against the at-fault driver and their insurance company.
Understand Your State’s Laws and Insurance Coverage
Each state has rules for determining who is responsible for accident losses. An understanding of how accident laws and insurance coverage requirement work in your state can help.
For instance, some jurisdictions are no-fault states where your insurance company may cover your medical expenses. They may also pay some of your lost wages after a minor crash.
Every driver in these states must rely on their insurer to compensate for their losses, regardless of who is to blame for the accident. While there is not much you can do even when the accident was not your fault, the driver who caused the accident may still be responsible for property damage.
In at-fault states, the driver responsible for the crash must compensate you for medical bills, property damage, and other losses such as wages and emotional distress.
When you know what rules apply to your situation, you can expect a car accident attorney to work to ensure you receive total compensation.
How Does Car Insurance Work When the Car Accident Was Not Your Fault?
Dealing with your insurance company can be a stressful undertaking. Having also to contact the at-fault driver’s insurer will only add to your stress. A car accident attorney can help you navigate this process by contacting the insurance companies for you.
The contact information you gathered at the scene about the at-fault driver is used to file a car accident claim against their liability insurance coverage.
If your auto insurance includes collision and Personal Injury Protection, you may have to file a claim with your insurer when the other driver has low limits.
Report the Accident to Your Car Insurance Provider
It is recommended that you call your auto insurance provider immediately after an accident that was not your fault. Within a matter of seconds, your life changes. Also, full details of the accident might not be apparent in those moments.
Details might reveal that you hold some partial responsibility for why the accident occurred. The other driver’s insurance company may also fail to cover medical bills and vehicle repairs.
If the at-fault driver’s insurance company refuses responsibility for the accident, your insurance company can contest the expenses with the other insurer. If it turns out that you are partially to blame, your insurer will need to cover the other driver’s collision claims.
While you wait for the at-fault driver to accept responsibility, you may have to pay a deductible if you want to get back on the road sooner. Your car accident attorney can include reimbursement for the deductible in your compensation claim.
Premium Increases After a Car Accident
In general, an accident where the other driver is at fault will not cause your auto insurance premiums to increase. Your insurer is not involved since the at-fault driver’s insurer is responsible for your medical treatment and vehicle repairs.
Even if you file a claim with your insurer to cover what the other insurance company does not pay, it is unlikely that your insurance premiums will go up.
Have a Car Accident Lawyer Evaluate Your Auto Accident Case
While you collected essential details at the scene, you may still want to have your claim evaluated by a car accident attorney. Getting legal advice helps you understand your rights after a car accident. An attorney can also help you obtain fair compensation.
Typically, an attorney on your side goes beyond knowing what to do after an accident that was not your fault. Instead, they will fight to ensure the insurance company and at-fault driver give you what you need to rebuild.
Consider Suing the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company
If you become seriously injured after a crash that is ruled a no-fault accident, you can still demand compensation from the other driver’s auto insurance company. However, remember that their policy limits may not cover your medical expenses.
If this happens, you should be able to use your uninsured driver’s coverage to pay for the expenses left unpaid by the at-fault driver’s insurance.
What is a Third-Party Insurance Claim?
Generally, there are three primary parties to a car crash: you, the at-fault driver, and their insurance company. You are considered the third party. A third-party insurance claim is filing a claim with the other driver’s insurer.
In most cases, when the car accident was not your fault, the at-fault driver’s liability insurance coverage mandated by the state pays for your medical bills and damages to your vehicle and other property.
How a Third-Party Insurance Claim Works
Commonly referred to as a liability insurance claim, a third-party claim covers the damages and injuries that you endure after a car crash. For example, vehicle repairs, lost wages, rental car expenses and lost wages when you miss work due to injuries are typically filed under third-party insurance claims.
However, actual coverage depends on two important factors. First, the state where you live has set laws on how to handle vehicle accident insurance claims. Second, another factor that affects a third party is the at-fault driver’s coverage.
Third-party insurance claims work differently when you live in a no-fault insurance state. You can file a third-party claim to recover your expense if your state does not have no-fault insurance requirements.
It is important to speak with a car accident attorney who understands the laws in your state. They can make legal claims that improve your chances of receiving full compensation for your injuries, lost wages, and property damage.
How Does a Police Report Factor into Determining Fault?
Whether the car accident appears to be a minor fender-bender or a severe crash, call 911 ASAP. The police will arrive on the scene and provide an account of what happened. The report filed by the police becomes part of the record. The police report can also speed up the resolution of your insurance claim.
Staying at the scene long enough to speak with the police can also help to bolster your claim. This is especially true when the car crash was not your fault. Florida is a comparative state, which means your insurance company and the at-fault driver’s insurer will work together to determine each driver’s fault level.
Additionally, insurance companies use different methods to decide who is at fault. Most often, the police report is one of those methods. However, the law does not require insurance companies to agree with the police report. An attorney can help you prepare if the insurance company reaches a different conclusion.
How Can a Lawyer Help Your Case When the Car Accident Was Not Your Fault?
In the midst of frequent doctor’s visits, financial challenges, and battles with unrelenting insurance companies, it is crucial to pick your battles wisely. First and foremost, your health and recovery are vitally important.
The at-fault driver’s insurance company may deny your claim and tell you to seek payment through your auto insurance policy. They might claim no evidence supports their policyholder’s fault.
While it is illegal in most states for insurance companies to deny claims flatly without investigating the facts, you may want to avoid this fight. If you decide to file a claim with your insurance company, they may choose to fight the at-fault driver for compensation.
You will need a car accident attorney to fight the at-fault driver’s insurance company for compensation. An attorney with experience navigating murky insurance laws and defiant insurance companies will work to protect your rights.
While you focus on getting well, an attorney will battle for what you deserve.
Seek Help From a Car Accident Attorney
In the state of Florida, the statute of limitation for filing a car accident claim is within four years of the event. Unfortunately, it takes time to build your case and even longer when you focus on recovering from injuries.
A car accident attorney can help make the process more manageable when you are unsure of what to do after a car accident that wasn’t your fault. Contact an attorney with the experience and guidance to get things done on your behalf today.