What Do I Do After a Car Accident That Isn’t My Fault?
By Chris Dixon
When an accident happens, either one or both of the drivers involved in the accident are considered liable for the incident. There are a number of negligent driving behaviors that can cause these accidents such as speeding, distracted driving, drunk driving, failure to yield and many more. If you are involved in an accident that isn’t your fault, you need to gather evidence from the scene of the accident, prove that the other driver is liable for the accident and that you had little or no fault in the accident. While evidence from the crash must be gathered by you or a loved one immediately after the accident, hiring a car accident lawyer shortly after takes care of the rest of the process when you’re involved in a car accident that isn’t your fault.
Proving Negligence in a Car Accident
Negligence refers to any act that differs from what a ‘reasonably prudent person’ would do in the same situation. For example, if someone causes a car accident by speeding 20 mph over the speed limit this would be considered negligent behavior. Similarly, if a pedestrian is struck while visibly in a designated walking path this would be defined as negligent behavior on the driver’s part. Any other rational, alert and focused driver that is following traffic laws would have seen the pedestrian and veered away from the path, or wouldn’t be driving close to pedestrian paths in the first place. To prove negligence in a car accident, a car accident claim must be backed by evidence from the car accident. Evidence that a driver acted negligently includes:
- Photos taken at the scene of the accident that visibly show that the driver acted negligently and clearly caused the car accident to happen
- An official police report that contains sketches of the scene, witness testimonies, unbiased evidence from the scene of the accident, statements from everyone involved in the accident and who and what police believe is responsible for the accident
- A medical report from a physician. If you are injured in a car accident, seeking immediate medical attention is essential. A medical report will include an official diagnosis of your injuries, the cause of the injuries, recommended treatment and whether injuries are temporary or more permanent.
What is the Difference Between a No-Fault and At-Fault State?
Traffic laws vary from state to state and the same can be said for the types of damages that can be claimed for a car accident. Some states use the no-fault law which means that if someone is involved in a car accident, regardless of whether they are at-fault or not, they have to pay for their own damages from the accident. If they are liable for an accident in a no-fault state, if the other driver’s damages cross a certain threshold (monetary or ‘serious injury’), the other driver is legally allowed to sue them. No-fault states differ from states that use the at-fault law in that if a car accident happens that you are not liable for, the other driver is legally liable for paying your damages if you can prove that they are at-fault for the accident. If the at-fault driver refuses to pay for damages, you can sue them and have a judge decide if you are entitled to damages. If the judge rules that the other driver is at-fault for the accident, they will have no choice but to pay for your damages. In both at-fault and no-fault states, it is crucial to have a car accident lawyer help you file your claim. Filing a claim without the help of a local attorney who knows your state’s laws of ‘fault’ can lead to you accepting a lower settlement from the other driver’s insurance company.
What Damages Can I Claim for a Car Accident That Isn’t My Fault?
The most common types of damages that can be claimed from a car accident that isn’t your fault are medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and loss of affection. Similar to how different states follow different ‘fault’ rules, every state does not have the same rules for car accident damages. In at-fault states you can claim all of the damages that are listed above from the at-fault driver, but in no-fault states you can only claim medical expenses and lost wages which are paid by your own insurance company. The only way that you can sue the at-fault driver in a no-fault state is if your state has monetary thresholds for damages and ‘serious injuries’ in place. If your state does not have threshold laws, you are not eligible to sue the other driver and can only recover medical expenses and lost wages through your insurance company.
Get a Free Consultation from a Car Accident Lawyer
Taking the opportunity to get informed after a car accident that isn’t your fault is crucial. If you are 1) unaware of your state’s ‘fault’ laws, 2) do not know what to do after a car accident that isn’t your fault, or 3) do not have a lawyer in your corner to represent you, you should immediately find a local lawyer. Most car accident lawyers use a contingency plan so that you won’t have to pay any fees unless they win damages for your case, or at the very least are open to payment arrangements to make their services more available. The initial consultation with your lawyer is almost always free. Consulting with a car accident lawyer after a car accident that isn’t your fault allows you to get informed about the details of your case and provides you with the tools needed to file a strong car accident claim and explore the options that are available to you for your car accident case. To discuss a car accident that wasn’t your fault and damages you could be entitled to, contact the Dixon Injury Firm.