What To Do After a Car Accident That’s Not Your Fault?

Updated January 23, 2024
11 min read
What To Do After a Car Accident That’s Not Your Fault?

Introduction

In the unsettling aftermath of a car accident in which you were not the driver at fault, you may find yourself grappling with what steps to take next. What to do after a minor car accident not your fault? Do the rules for being in a car accident change when you are not the driver at fault? 

What To Do After a Car Accident Not Your Fault?

Navigating the aftermath of a car accident when you're not at fault can be challenging. It's crucial to understand the necessary steps to protect your rights and interests. This section will explore the specific scenario of a car accident not my fault what to do, guiding you on what to do to ensure your concerns are appropriately addressed.

  1. Exchange personal information: Initiate by exchanging contact and insurance information with other drivers involved in the not at fault accident. Also, take note of the details of any passengers and witnesses present.

  2. Call the police: It's crucial to call the police immediately. The police will document the incident details and compile an official accident report, usually the primary evidence if you file a claim later.

  3. Document the scene: Record all relevant details, such as the contact information of witnesses, vehicle details, the time and place of the accident, and the details of the police officers present. You'll need this information while filing a claim or a personal injury lawsuit. Also, take pictures of the damages, injuries, and the overall scene of the accident for reference.

  4. Seek medical attention: Even if your injuries seem minor, seek immediate medical attention. This will ensure that any unidentified injuries are detected and correctly documented. These medical records can be critical while seeking compensation from the at-fault driver's insurance company.

It is important to remember that:
  • If you visit a hospital and you have documentation from a doctor, you will be more likely to successfully prove that the injuries you have were a direct result of the car accident that wasn’t your fault. 
  • If you fail to have any documentation and you fail to go to a doctor, there will be no way for you to link your injuries to the car accident.

Overcoming the Impact of a Car Accident

Even if the crash wasn’t your fault, it can be challenging to get over a car accident mentally, emotionally, and financially. In different states across America, the rules vary regarding how fault is determined. 

For example, some states, like Alabama and North Carolina, follow the "contributory negligence" approach, in which a driver who is even 1% at fault cannot recover damages.

Other states like California and Florida operate under a "pure comparative negligence" rule where damages are divided based on each party's degree of fault. So, in these states, even a driver who is 80% at fault can recover 20% of their loss from the other party.

You must document everything that develops as you recover from a car totaled not at fault. You might consider getting legal help from a lawyer who works specifically with victims of car accidents. They can advise you as to what information you should collect on a regular basis, such as:

  • Lost wages;

  • Time off work;

  • Injuries or medical bills;

  • Repairs to your vehicle.

Such documentation typically finds its way to the opposing driver's insurance company. Recognizing that not all expenses crop up immediately post-accident, insurance companies are often agreeable to receiving this information over an extended timeframe. This process ensures a meticulous and comprehensive compilation of all expenses related to the accident.

Always read the accident report

At this point, you should already have a copy of the accident report from the local police department. If you don’t, you can reach out to the police yourself, or if you have an attorney, they can reach out for you. This car accident report will indicate whether or not any citations or tickets were issued at the crime scene, which could help your case.

For example, your accident report might detail that the police issued a citation for driving and texting to the other driver, which can solidify a claim that you were not at fault.

Take some time to read the report in detail and understand what the different sections indicate. The report includes information about any potential citations or liabilities for the driver who is responsible and the insurance company. If you were unable to obtain this information at the crime scene, you could get it in the crash report.

The accident report will also provide information on whether anyone was tested for driving under the influence and the results of those tests. It will also include any potential contributing factors, such as:

  • Weather conditions;

  • Obscured visibility;

  • How the other driver was moving;

  • The location of the point of contact;

  • The direction the cars were traveling;

  • Whether the accident took place in a work zone or construction zone; and

  • The speed limit and the speeds at which the cars were traveling.

The report will also include the police officer's narrative, the explanation for who the police believe was at fault, and why they believe this to be true based on the opinions and perspectives of the drivers, passengers, and witnesses, as well as any property damage or injuries sustained. 

Statute of limitations for car accident claims

Every state has a statute of limitations. This refers to the time you have to file a claim or a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver, which is, on average, two years.

A good attorney can help you to file an insurance claim to seek compensation from the at-fault driver. If the insurance company refuses to pay, they can file a personal injury claim against the individual driver. These claims can be based on the information you have collected pertaining to:

  1. Subsequent injuries that you believe were results from your car accident that were not your fault;

  2. Repairs to your vehicle over the course of three months following when the car accident occurred;

  3. Missed work because of your injuries that resulted from the accident.

I Got Into a Car Accident Not My Fault, Should I Get an Attorney?

If you got into a car accident not your fault you should find an attorney as soon as possible. In high-stress situations, you may discover it challenging to reach out to friends seeking attorney recommendations.

A practical and efficient solution could be to utilize an online directory, essentially a treasure trove of valuable legal resources. This directory, your digital compass, can provide you with a comprehensive list of readily available lawyers within your state, significantly simplifying your search for legal assistance.

Conclusion

A car accident can be frightening, whether or not you were at fault. You must collect the appropriate data immediately after the accident, seek medical attention for any potential injuries, and document everything over the next few months as it relates to your accident. 

Article by
Inna Chumachenko
Lawrina

Inna Chumachenko is the Content Lead at Lawrina. She is responsible for managing all the content found on the blog, guides, and other website pages. Inna has a degree in philology and a vast interest in law. In her role at Lawrina, Inna oversees the content team, establishes collaborations with writers, and curates content from various contributors.

If you have any questions or suggestions regarding the content for Lawrina, please feel free to contact Inna directly via email at i.chumachenko@lawrina.org or connect with her on LinkedIn.