You might think your car accident couldn’t get any worse. Unfortunately, you’re wrong! After a car accident, you must file for an insurance claim. The insurance company ultimately decides how much money to pay out.
Things become more complicated if you’re at fault. This can not only reduce how much you receive but cause you to pay someone else a whole lot of money.
If you’re wondering “what happens if I’m at fault in a car accident,” just keep reading to discover the answer!
What Is Fault?
In most accidents involving two drivers, one driver is considered at fault. Before we proceed further, it’s important to explore the notion of fault and whether it applies to you in this instance.
The basic concept of fault is pretty simple. It means that one driver is at least mostly responsible for the accident. We say “mostly” because there may be mitigating factors ranging from the weather to the other driver’s behavior.
After an accident, car insurance helps to pay for injuries. But who pays whom? Generally, the driver at fault is responsible for paying for both damage and injuries (more on this later on).
Fault and No-Fault
Different states have different laws when it comes to driving and driving accidents. These states can generally be split into two camps: “fault states” and “no-fault states.”
The majority of states are fault states. This means that if you are at fault, your insurance company is on the hook for paying the other person regardless of their own insurance status.
Certain states are no-fault states. In such states, a driver may have to be covered by some kind of personal injury insurance in order to receive any kind of payment after an accident.
Knowing your state’s fault status can help you navigate your case and determine if you need a professional lawyer on your side.
You and the Other Driver
Every decision you make after a car accident is very important. And the first important decision starts with you checking on the health of the other driver after the accident.
If there are serious injuries or property damage, you must immediately call “911.” Not only is this your civic duty, but it may paint you in a more positive light when others investigate your case.
Once you determine that no serious injuries have occurred, you must share information with the other driver. This includes things like your name, contact information, and insurance details.
Don’t forget to report the accident to the local police regardless of whether there were any serious injuries.
After you make sure that the other driver is okay, you have an important mission. Now is the time when you are going to document every potential detail of the accident.
On the most basic level, this includes things like the accident date, time, and location. You should also take multiple detailed photos of each vehicle. This can help your case later on and present an objective record of damage to the vehicle.
If there are any witnesses, get their names and contact information. They may be crucial to your claim with the insurance company.
Finally, don’t forget to report the accident to your insurance company. This helps to get the ball rolling on your future paperwork.
There are two kinds of liability at play with a car accident: vehicle liability and insurance liability. We will start by analyzing what vehicle liability is and why it is important.
Vehicle liability is straightforward because it is tied to the amount of damage the other vehicle sustained. If you are at fault, then your insurance carrier is going to have to pay this amount to take care of the other driver’s damages.
This may seem like good news in the short term because you aren’t personally paying for someone’s car repair. But the accident is likely to affect your insurance payments (more on this in a minute).
As we said, vehicle liability is straightforward because it’s easy to put a price tag on car repairs. However, injury liability is another thing altogether.
If you are at fault, the other driver may file a personal injury lawsuit after the accident. And the amount of potential damages can be staggering.
The simple part is the other person’s medical bills. These add up to a fixed number. However, you must also account for any wages they miss out on due to their injuries.
Finally, there is pain and suffering. This can be tough to determine, but if someone’s quality of life is seriously affected, they are likely to get a serious settlement.
If you are worried about such a lawsuit, you can take out liability insurance to protect yourself against some (or even all) of the amounts owed.
The Future of Your Insurance
At first, your insurance company will be your best friend after an accident. Because of them, you won’t personally be on the hook for thousands of dollars in damages.
However, your insurance rates will almost certainly increase the next time you renew this policy. On a long enough timeline, this means you may end up paying for the cost of the accident and then some.
This is one reason why it may be worth it to go ahead and hire a good lawyer even if you are at fault in the accident. They may be able to reduce how much you owe to the other driver and how much you will owe in the form of increased insurance payments.
Regardless, there is no time like the present to familiarize yourself with your insurance policies, deductible amount, and the additional coverage options available to purchase.
Final Thoughts on “What Happens If I’m At Fault in a Car Accident?”
Now you have an answer to “What happens if I’m at fault in a car accident?” However, do you know who will have your back through the whole thing?
We specialize in fields such as personal injury and automobile accidents. To see how we can reduce what you owe after an accident, all you have to do is contact us today!