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Disputing Fault for a Car Accident

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

Disputing Fault for a Car Accident

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A car accident can be a traumatic experience for anyone. Along with dealing with possible injuries, you also must cope with the consequences that the wreck might have on your finances.

You may be able to avoid paying for most or all of your accident-related expenses by establishing who is to blame for the accident. You also should learn how to dispute fault for a car accident case if the other party places the blame for the wreck on you.

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The First Steps to Take After an Accident

The initial steps you take after a car accident can actually help establish who is at fault for the wreck. Your first priority should center on making sure you and anyone else in the car is unhurt. If you or someone in the vehicle suffers severe injuries, you should immediately call 911.

Even if you are not hurt, you should still call 911 to report the car accident. While you await the police’s arrival, you should use your cell phone to take pictures of the accident. Some of the things you should photograph include:

  • Damage to your vehicle
  • Damage to the other party’s vehicle
  • The placement of both vehicles
  • The other driver’s license tag

Additionally, you should speak to the other driver if possible and ask for details like his or her:

  • First and last name
  • Address and phone number
  • Insurer’s name and contact details
  • Insurance policy number

If there are witnesses to the accident, you should make every attempt to get their names and contact information. It could be critical to establishing who is at fault for the wreck and also for making a claim against the insurance policy of the other driver.

While you are speaking to others involved in or witness to the accident, you should avoid getting into confrontations. If other people involved are hostile or threatening to you, wait until the police arrive to get this information.

If you did not seek medical treatment at the scene of the accident, it is important for you to go to the doctor immediately after even if your injuries do not seem severe. Adrenaline and shock can make substantial injuries seem minor at first. However, hours later you may discover you are in severe pain for which you need immediate medical help.

It is also important for you to avoid admitting to or taking the blame for the accident. You should not speak to the other party’s insurance adjuster until you consult with an attorney if you plan to challenge who is at fault for the wreck.

Getting a Police Report

Depending on factors like where you live and the severity of the accident, the police may or may not show up to the scene of the wreck to make a report. They typically will show up to make a report if anyone in the wreck was injured. They also will arrive if alcohol or drug use contributed to the accident or the accident is a hit-and-run.

If they do not show up to make a police report, you and the other driver will be expected to make a report yourselves at the nearest police station. You have 72 to 96 hours in most states to do so.

If an officer does arrive to make a report, it is vital that you get a copy of it. The report is essentially the officer’s recollection of what happened during and after the accident. It will contain evidence of liability and also reflect the officer’s opinion of the circumstances. It will take into consideration evidence gathered at the scene like skid marks, damage to the vehicles, and the position of the cars after the wreck.

The insurance companies involved may not issue a car liability report without an official police report on file. As soon as you get a copy of it, you should submit it to your insurer right away.

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How to Dispute Fault for the Accident

When the other party places all of the blame for the accident on you, it is important that you know how to dispute this claim. By law, you have the right to dispute fault for the accident. The procedure for doing so will vary according to each insurer and the state in which you live.

If needed during the process, you have the right to retain the services of a third-party mediator. A mediator is someone who represents the court in which the case would otherwise be litigated.

This individual will listen to testimonies and consider the evidence before rendering a final decision. All parties involved in the accident must abide by the final decision of the mediator.

You can also dispute fault for the accident by hiring an attorney. A personal injury or accident attorney can help you in significant ways during the process.

To start, your attorney may be able to hire an accident scene reconstruction expert who can recreate the scene of the wreck. This person can also download data from the other party’s vehicle to determine facts like how fast the driver was going, how far the vehicle traveled, and whether or not the driver attempted to brake in time to avoid hitting your car.

Your attorney can also interview witnesses and gather eyewitness testimony to dispute fault for the wreck. Once all of this evidence and testimony is gathered, your lawyer can present it to the insurance company.

Having an attorney representing you can also spare you from tactics like bullying or harassment from insurance adjusters. In most cases, insurance companies tend to take lawyers more seriously than they do lay people because they know attorneys are well-versed in personal injury and accident laws in your state.

Finally, with an attorney on retainer, you are less likely to be ignored by the police and by the insurance company. Both will listen to your claims and carefully consider the evidence presented to them. They could reverse their initial decision and agree with your dispute that the other party was in fact at fault for the accident.

A car accident does not have to take a devastating toll on your life. You could avoid having to pay for your own medical bills and damages if you can prove you were not to blame for it. By knowing how to dispute fault for an accident and by hiring a skilled attorney, you may have a legitimate claim to make against the other party’s insurance company.

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