Determining who is at fault for a car accident can be difficult as no-one really wants to admit liability if it means they’ll have to pay for the damages. Ultimately, it’s the insurance companies’ responsibility to assess the evidence and ensure the correct driver accepts the blame. Here’s how insurance companies determine fault in car accidents.
They Gather Evidence
Once you’ve filed an accident report with your insurance company, you’ll be assigned a claims adjuster. Claims adjusters are the people who will be investigating your claim to see the extent of liability. They will do this by analyzing all the available evidence relating to the car accident. That’s why it’s vital you gather as much evidence at the scene of the accident as you can to support your case.
- Photos and videos of the damage to your vehicle, surrounding vehicles and property. You could also take photos of the road for skid marks or other damage.
- Dash cam footage.
- Witness testimonies.
- Police reports and statements.
- Medical records if you were injured in the crash.
The claims adjuster will also take the statements you made to the insurance company into consideration. So, be careful with what you say and how you say it as any ambiguous comments can easily be misconstrued and used against you.
They Will Consider No-Doubt Liability
There are cases where it’s almost always a particular driver’s fault. Known as no-doubt liability cases, these are near-impossible to contest with and usually results in quick settlements for the victim(s).
Some examples include:
- Traffic law violations - such as running a red light or speeding.
- Rear-end collisions - unless your carelessness caused the crash (e.g. not using turn signals or having a fault brake light).
- Left-turn accidents - unless you violated a traffic law. It can also be contested if the turn was legal but something unexpected caused the other driver to slow down while making the turn.
- DUI - driving while under the influence is illegal in every state and that driver will always be at fault for the accident.
Apart from DUI (which can be proved with a breathalyser test), these examples can be difficult to prove. They usually require witnesses. So, the insurance company will contact the police to obtain the appropriate witness testimonies.
They Will Consider What You Said to the Police and to the Other Driver at the Accident Scene
Insurance companies will also take everything you said at the scene of the accident into consideration. This includes your police statement and whatever you might have said to the other driver(s) immediately after the crash.
It’s normal to be emotional, traumatized or apologetic after an accident. But even something as simple and seemingly meaningless like “I’m so sorry for hitting you” or “I didn’t see you” can be seen as an admission of guilt. This can lead to the blame (or most of it) being shifted to you, even if it was actually the other driver’s fault.
So, it’s vital you avoid saying anything that might be taken out of context and used against you. In fact, it’s better not to say anything at all until you’ve sought legal advice from a professional.
The Importance of Seeking Advice from a Lawyer
Mississippi is a Tort state, meaning that the driver who is at fault for the accident must pay for the victim’s medical expenses. They will also have to pay the victim for any additional compensation they’re owed, such as for loss of wages, pain and suffering.
In addition to this, if the accident was your fault, your insurance premiums will also soar.
This is why you need a lawyer after a car accident if you want your claim to stand the best chance of success.
From statements being taken out of context to inaccurate police reports, a lawyer can help. There may even be instances when the insurance company tries to maximize the money they can make from you, regardless of whether it was your fault or not. A lawyer can help prevent this by handling negotiations on your behalf.
When Should I Get a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
You should hire a lawyer or seek legal advice immediately after a car accident. You should do this even before you contact your insurance company or talk to the police because it’s easy to say things you don’t mean or make ambiguous statements when you’re still traumatized from the accident. These statements can easily be misconstrued and used against you, thus weakening your case.
A lawyer can do all of the following to ensure your claim stands the best and fairest outcome, regardless of whether it was your fault or not:
- Deal with the insurance company.
- Handle all the details of the claim.
- Prepare a verbal or written statement to the police and insurance company that is carefully crafted to your benefit.
- Represent your best interests so you will get the outcome you deserve.
Where Can I Find the Best Car Accident Lawyer for Me?
Finding a personal injury lawyer isn’t particularly difficult but finding the right personal injury lawyer to handle your auto accident case is another matter. The best lawyer for a car accident claim will be experienced in handling similar cases to yours and has a great success rate. They will also be someone you can rely on to represent your best interests.
At Coxwell & Associates, our personal injury lawyers are both qualified and highly experienced. For over 35 years, we’ve been helping Mississippians with their vehicle accident claims, from motorbikes to automobiles and even 18 wheelers.
We offer free case consultations so contact us today by clicking the button below.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.