In the United States alone, there are approximately six million car accidents every year, injuring around three million people. More than 90 people die in car accidents every day in the U.S. Being found at fault for a car accident can be devastating, particularly if you know you did not cause the accident.
Fighting the Fault Decision: How To Dispute Car Accident Fault
After a car accident occurs and the insurance companies are notified, an insurance adjuster will investigate the collision to determine what happened, how it happened, and each party's degree of fault. On the part of the adjuster, the investigation usually includes:
- Speaking with each party involved in the accident
- Reviewing or obtaining witness statements from anyone who saw the accident
- Reviewing the accident report provided by police
- Determining if any traffic tickets were issued and to whom
- Comparing your accident claim to all of the above information to find any inconsistencies
Sometimes, the insurance adjuster may make the wrong decision, finding you responsible for the crash when you know for certain that you were not. But can you fight an at-fault accident? The answer is yes.
In fact, disputing the finding of fault is essential when you have been wrongly accused. A wrongful at-fault finding can lead to unwarranted traffic citations, financial penalties, and denied insurance claims. In extreme cases, you may even find yourself facing criminal charges, fines, and possible incarceration.
Protect Yourself - Take Accident Scene Photos
As the common saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” In the event of a car accident, these words ring especially true.
While the investigating police officers will likely photograph the accident scene, it is still in your best interests to take your own photos of the accident and the area in which it occurred. Your photographs may contain the evidence you need to prove your side in a fault dispute.
Immediately after the accident occurs, you should obtain clear photographs of the following:
- The point of impact on all involved vehicles and all damage incurred
- The exact location of the cars following the collision
- Skid marks and debris on the road
- Traffic signs, signals, or road markings the at-fault driver failed to heed
- The accident site and the surrounding area
- Any injuries sustained by all involved parties (if possible)
Other evidence you may be able to use to prove the other driver was at fault may include:
- Video footage from nearby traffic, doorbell, surveillance, and dash cameras
- Names and contact information from all witnesses willing to testify
- Statements from eyewitnesses, including passengers in your vehicle
- The police crash report
- Medical reports or bills proving you obtained immediate medical care (if you were injured)
Contact the Insurance Representative
You should immediately contact the insurance company if fault has been wrongly attributed to you. This is certainly something you could handle yourself, but it is often better to have an attorney handle this step for you. It is essential to state your disagreement with their determination as soon as possible.
Contact them by telephone and in writing; whether you choose to send an email or a letter, ensure your communication includes the following:
- Your assertion that you did not cause the accident
- Your truthful account of what happened
- The specific information you are disputing
- Evidence that the insurance company's decision was wrong
Creating a record of your communication with the insurance company may be important in any future legal proceedings, so document and keep copies of all contact you have with them, including telephone calls (date, time, agent's name, etc.), emails, chat logs, and letters.
Be careful what you send the insurance company, as it will be a permanent part of a file they could use against you. If you pursue legal action of any kind, your accident attorney will need copies of all documentation collected.
Ask That the Police Report Be Amended
If the police report documenting the accident contains inaccurate or incomplete information, you should speak with the investigating officer to provide your side of the story. You can ask the officer to correct a provably factual error, question a transcription error, or resolve an error of omission by including your supplemental statement or other documentation as addenda to the report.
Fight Any Accident-Related Tickets in Court
If you believe a police officer made a mistake by issuing you a citation for your part in the accident, you should reach out to the officer to dispute the ticket. There is a possibility the ticket could be dismissed — for example, in exchange for completing a defensive driving course.
If you must go to court to fight the ticket, even if you are not successful, your willingness to defend yourself in this way can show the insurance company that you stand behind your version of events and will fight to protect your rights.
Check If You Are Located in a No-Fault State
Disputing liability in a car accident may be a moot point in a no-fault state. In these states, regardless of who caused the accident, each car accident victim is expected by statute to receive compensation from their own insurance company. Accident victims can only make a liability claim against the other driver if the damages caused by their injuries exceed a certain threshold.
As of 2022, the twelve no-fault states are:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
Understand How At-Fault Drivers Can Still Get Compensation
Fault for some car accidents is not easily determined, and in many cases, the drivers may share some degree of fault for the traffic collision. For example, if one driver was speeding and the other was texting when the accident occurred, both are partially responsible.
In no-fault states, because each driver collects compensation from their own insurer, even the at-fault driver can receive financial compensation from their insurance provider for an accident they caused.
Hire a Car Accident Lawyer from a Reputable Law Firm
If you have been wrongfully found at fault for a vehicular accident in southwestern Ohio or northern Kentucky, reach out to the experienced Cincinnati personal injury attorneys at The Moore Law Firm. Our committed team will guide you through the car accident fault dispute process and help you pursue financial compensation or a favorable jury verdict.
Do not hesitate to contact us today.