How to Dispute Fault in a Car Accident: Simple Steps
Driving is a wonderful experience and an essential skill for every adult. Cars help people take care of their daily affairs independently, but drivers should never forget about rules and keep other drivers in mind.
Unfortunately, car accidents happen, and they may even result in fatalities. In 2022, the National Safety Council reported the average costs incurred after a car crash is $9,500, including medical bills, lost working time, and property damage. The more serious the car accident is, the more traumatic the injuries are, and the more expensive the damages are.
If you happen to be involved in a traffic collision that’s not your fault, you have the right to contest fault and to avoid paying anything to the at fault driver. In this step-by-step guide, you will learn how to dispute a car accident fault and how to dispute police citation for a car accident fault.
How to Dispute Fault in a Car Accident
First – while you’re still at the scene, you have to act immediately. Don’t waste your time quarreling with the other driver.
If you have no severe injuries, you should:
- take photos of the car wreck, including all damages,
- photograph the surrounding area, traffic controls, and road conditions,
- ask the at fault driver and all witnesses to the accident for their contact information because every detail matters
- call the police and get a copy of their accident report.
If you are involved in a car accident that's not your fault, you might wonder what you should do next. What are the next steps you sho...
Whether you have severe or slight injuries, you should contact your insurance agents and immediately inform them of the car accident. Make clear that you were not at fault and explain why the other driver was to blame. The next steps of this guide will help you dispute fault, create an accurate police report, and avoid any professional errors by your insurance company.
File a personal injury claim
A personal injury claim is a legal document that seeks financial compensation from the party who caused a car accident. To correctly compose a personal injury claim, you need to ask a personal injury attorney for help.
The whole legal process of filing a personal injury claim includes the following steps:
- Find a personal injury attorney: You can use our free database of these legal professionals across the United States. An experienced personal injury lawyer will handle everything for you and protect you from liability.
- Request medical examination: Even if your injuries are minor, you should see your doctor and inform your insurer of your appointment. Without medical documentation of your injuries, the at fault driver’s insurance provider will question your injuries and will refuse to compensate you for the damage.
- Creating a personal injury claim: Notify the liable party of your intention to file a personal injury claim. If you have an attorney, they will perform this and other important tasks for you.
- Medical treatment: Collect all the necessary medical health records, invoices, the scope of treatment, and any related material, connected with your car accident injuries and other damages.
- Negotiations: Your personal injury lawyer and you will begin negotiating the terms of the financial compensation you should receive because of the car accident. If the negotiation succeeds, you can accept the offer and expect your compensation within 30 days.
However, it is very common for at fault drivers to deny their negligence and refuse to accept responsibility for their bodily injuries and property damage.
At this point, you can authorize your lawyer to file a lawsuit against the liable party. However, there are important deadlines limiting when you must file your personal injury claim. They are called “statutes of limitation,” and any lawsuit filed after the statute of limitation in your state is barred by law.
Dispute the findings of the insurance company
As we’ve mentioned before, at the accident scene, you should get in touch with your insurance provider about the car wreck. But what if they don’t accept your claims of innocence?
Here as well, you have the right to dispute the final decision of the insurance company. After you receive a notice from your agents denying your claim, consider the following process:
- Find an experienced car accident lawyer. If necessary, a legal professional will file another lawsuit against your insurer for what the law calls “bad faith” or breach of your insurance contract.
- Your lawyer will contact them right away and appeal your case as soon as possible.
- Your lawyer will notify the insurance company of your disagreement in a letter and include any pieces of solid evidence that support the other driver’s fault in the car crash.
Evidence Needed to Determine Fault in a Car Accident
To successfully dispute fault in a car accident, you need to identify as many supporting facts as possible. It will help you make your personal injury claim more persuasive and legally enforceable.
The most essential information used in investigating car accident cases is witness testimony and physical evidence. We will discuss each of them in detail.
Usually, witness testimony is of special value during a car accident investigation. Vehicle crashes happen so unexpectedly and rapidly that it’s difficult to grab a phone right away and start taking photos or videos of the scene.
However, witness testimony isn’t only from random pedestrians who were passing by accident. There are more individuals who must share their testimony with the police:
- drivers who were involved and suffered from the collision,
- drivers who aren’t involved in the car accident,
- emergency medical workers and doctors who gave first aid and treatment to the victims,
- legal experts that car accident lawyers consult or hire, e.g. accident reconstruction expert.
Bear in mind that all the verbal information given by the witness will be compared with the statements of other witnesses and the parties involved in the collision.
Photos, videos, and injuries suffered by injury victims also constitute physical evidence. Other important pieces of evidence that you can use to dispute your fault for the car accident:
- damage made to the vehicles (the location of scratches, dents, broken glass, etc.)
- damage to surrounding fixtures, traffic signs, sidewalks, and other property
- the location and length of visible skid marks on the road, etc.
What to Do After a Car Accident
Once again, emotions are useless at accident scenes. Everyone involved in a car accident, including drivers or random witnesses in pedestrian areas, should stay as calm as possible.
See the list of actions to take if you’ve been involved in a car crash. For more information, dive into the article on Lawrina’s legal blog.
- Take photos
Today, smartphone photos play a significant role in our lives. In car accidents, photos can help the police investigate who caused the accident, identify the victims, estimate expenses and losses, etc.
As the owner of a damaged vehicle, you should take as many relevant photos of the damage to your vehicle as possible. This information will be helpful for insurance agents as well to establish financial responsibility for the damage.
- Call the police
Your next step is to call 911 and clearly describe the scene of the car wreck. Mention your name, your car registration number, at least, as the precise location of the accident as possible, plus give the number of victims and witnesses and if anyone is harmed.
- Contact a lawyer
As we said before, you have to reach out to a car accident lawyer who will help you assert the necessary claims and negotiate agreements, and represent you in court. You can find an attorney who specializes in automobile accidents here.
- Contact your insurance companies
If you have valid car insurance, you should inform your insurer of the accident quickly. They are obliged to provide all the information you need about the expenses they cover relating to your specific case.
How to Dispute Fault in a No-Fault State
If you are involved in a car accident, you should instantly notify the police and your insurance agent of this matter. However, sometimes police officers may issue citations implying you were at fault for the accident.
In this case, you will have to dispute police citation a car accident fault in court. Here is what you should do:
- At the first hearing, you should plead not guilty, meaning that you didn’t break traffic laws. Your lawyer can help you defend your rights.
- The court may schedule another date to have a trial on the traffic citation. Your lawyer will focus primarily on the specific traffic law the police claimed you violated. This can involve technical legal arguments and will have little to do with your injuries or damages. The only question is whether the traffic law was violated.
Getting a Compensation for Your Injuries
Firstly, you should contact your insurance agents and inform them of the car accident and where you were injured. Here are the three main questions you should be ready to answer before claiming financial compensation for your harm:
- How significant are your injuries?
- Does the other driver have insurance?
- Does your insurance company cover your case?
Then, you have to prepare all the necessary evidence, including photos, videos, police reports, and witnesses’ testimonies, that clearly show that you were not at fault in the collision. More relevant information will increase your chances of getting compensation from the insurance company covering the liable party.
To convince the at-fault driver’s insurance company to compensate you, you should gather the required documents together with your personal injury attorney. Your lawyer will always stress that you were not at fault, and they will aggressively represent your interests. If the insurance company is uncertain about the law, your lawyer will provide them with all of the case law and statutes that apply to your case.
The process of obtaining compensation for injuries you suffer in an accident is to press a personal injury claim. Lawyers who specialize in this area of the law are great resources and will do all of the work needed to absolve you of fault and to get you all of the financial compensation possible for your physical injuries and for your property damages.
Why You Need a Car Accident Lawyer
Automobile accident lawyers are the experts who assist in investigating traffic collisions from A to Z and drafting all the required legal documents. Here are some common duties of car accident attorneys:
- communicate with the police, insurance companies, hospital staff, and the responsible driver’s representatives
- prepare the necessary legal documents to prove you were not at fault in the accident
- collect and present the key evidence in your claims
- organize your health records, medical bills, and other related expenses
- negotiate a settlement with the responsible party’s insurer to compensate you for all injuries and damages represent your interests at court if the at-fault driver’s insurance company refuses to offer you an acceptable settlement.
Most car accident attorneys will not forego using any legal action, law, regulation, or document required to prove your innocence in the traffic collision. They truly know what to do and keep you informed about your case’s progress. With an experienced attorney, you will usually win your financial compensation without going to court.
Car accidents are always stressful, especially when it comes to defending yourself against unjust accusations of negligence. Damaged vehicles, time loss, making multiple emergency contacts, injuries, and a big pile of documents to deal with can distract people from remembering the key information and acting wisely.
Any person involved in a traffic accident, especially if you suffered an injury, should contact a personal injury attorney right away. Their legal expertise and courtroom experience will do everything possible to defend you from fault and obtain the highest possible financial compensation for your injuries and damages.
Stay safe, attentive, and brave!