When it is clear that you are responsible for an accident, or if you believe that you are responsible for the accident, even if it is only partially, there is essential information that you should know. Your actions at the scene of the car accident can have a significant impact on the entire accident claim process.
Never Admit Fault – Even Partial Fault At The Scene
When an accident occurs, it is crucial that you try to keep things as professional and as simple as possible. Emotions are going to be running high, especially if there are injuries involved, and you do not want to say anything that can be used against you at a later time.
Even if you believe that the accident was 100 percent your fault, refrain from making this statement. Do not say things like “I should have done this or that to avoid the accident” or even “I’m sorry.” These statements can be seen as assigning fault to you for the accident. Allow law enforcement and accident reconstruction specialists to determine the responsibility of the accident.
It is also vital not to share responsibility. It is human nature to want to help someone from getting into trouble. So, we automatically assign blame to ourselves as well as the other party in an effort to share that responsibility. This can lead to many problems with the insurance company when you make a claim.
When you are at the scene, share the insurance information as well as your name and contact information with the police and with the other driver. You do not have to make an official statement. Simply reply with an “I don’t know” or “I’m really not sure at this time” and leave it at that until a later time when you have spoken with an attorney if necessary. You are not required to provide more than your contact and insurance information.
No Fault States
If you live in a state that has No-Fault insurance laws, you will not have as many problems for being at fault for an accident as you would in a comparative negligence state. However, having an accident in a no-fault state does not get you entirely off the hook for the accident.
No-fault laws require that anyone in an accident turn to their own insurance company first for the damages they received in an accident. If the person you had an accident with has enough coverage for their losses, you have nothing more to worry about.
If the insurance coverage by the other party is not enough to cover their losses and all the requirements are met for a lawsuit, you and your insurance company may be sued for any additional damages the other party has that was not covered by their insurer.
If You Are Uninsured
If you are in an accident and you do not have active insurance on your vehicle, you will be held personally responsible for the costs associated with the accident. The other party may be able to take out a lawsuit against you and your personal assets to cover the costs of their damages and injuries.
Additionally, if you are in an accident without proper insurance coverage, you are in violation of the law. Every state has a minimum insurance requirement for people to operate a vehicle on the road. You may be ticketed at the scene of the accident for not having insurance coverage.
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Speak With An Attorney
Even if you have adequate insurance to cover the accident, it may be wise to consult with an attorney about your accident. Even in a no-fault state, you may need to be able to prove fault for an accident if the other party does not have sufficient coverage and decides to sue you for the balance of their claim.
Having an attorney help, you establish the responsibility of the accident is also beneficial when it comes to your personal insurance policy. Accidents that are considered your fault can cause your policy rates to rise, or your policy may even be canceled.
Your best bet is to always have coverage on your vehicle in accordance with the law. You may also want to take the time to examine what your policy covers for you in the event of an accident. Many people buy the lowest possible coverage for their vehicles. Sadly, when an accident occurs, these policies are not large enough to cover the event.