Car accidents are tough. While dealing with bodily injuries and damage to your car and other personal belongings, you also have to deal with disputing fault with the insurance company.
It’s hard enough alone, but when the insurance company thinks it’s your fault, it’s even harder. If you’re the one found at fault, you could be charged by your insurance company and the cost of your premium could rise.
Ways to Dispute Fault in Car Accident
Once a car accident happens that you believe isn’t your fault and you’ve assessed your injuries, you can file a personal injury claim with the other driver’s insurance company, and the claim can be won by proving the negligence of the at-fault driver.
In this case, you and the other driver are both sending letters disputing who was at fault in the car accident, and it’s up to you to prove to the insurance company with enough evidence demonstrating that you were not at fault.
If the other driver was injured and thinks you’re at fault, you need to report the accident immediately to your insurance company, because they file a claim against you.
If other driver’s insurance company believes you caused the accident, they will either deny your claim or offer you a very small settlement. If this happens, it’s in your best interests to get a lawyer, because you’ll have to go to court and present the case in front of a judge disputing your involvement in the car accident.
Some insurance companies have policies regarding disputed fault claims and you may be asked to give a statement of your side of the story to an insurance adjuster. Talk to the insurance adjuster who reviewed your case, and if you need to, talk to his or her superiors. If the company still won’t change their decision, you may need to look into state or federal laws. Most states have protective laws in unfair liability issues, as well as a state body that oversees insurance affairs.
You generally need to make your request in writing, and once it’s received an investigator will be sent to examine the case and decide how to proceed forward.
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Disputing Fault in a No-Fault Insurance State
There are 12 states in which are no-fault states. They are New York, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota, Utah, Florida, Michigan and New Jersey.
If you were involved in an accident in one of these states, that means you could cover you and any passenger’s damages, no matter who is found at fault for the accident.
If the accident occurred in one of these states and you have been accused of being at fault, you could still receive damages if you choose to file a personal injury claim.
How To Prove The Other Driver Was At Fault
If you have been in an accident, you have suffered damages. If you believe the other driver was at fault for the crash, you will need to gather documentation and evidence that proves that. You will then want to pursue a personal injury claim against the other party to recover compensation for your losses.
Such accidents can lead to both economic and non-economic losses. There are several things that can be done to show who was at fault, and often, it can be determined by the extent of the damages and the point of impact on your vehicle.
You should look to see if the accident could have been captured by a traffic camera or a surveillance camera. If there is one in the vicinity, you can make a request using the Freedom of Information Act to review those tapes.
Your personal injury lawyer will help you do this and will review the recordings to see if they could benefit your case and prove that the other driver is liable for the damages that you suffered. Evidence and documentation are essential to a successful personal injury claim.
How to Prove You Weren’t at Fault
To turn the case around, you need to first understand how the claim is decided when you and the other driver are both accused of negligence. You then need to definitively prove the other driver was at fault.
Evidence is extremely important in this case, and it may be the only thing that can save your name. The physical evidence needs to be very specific to show how the accident occurred.
Photographic evidence of the scene best shows:
- Where the cars are damaged
- How badly the cars were damaged
- The location of the cars after the accident
- Skid marks on the road
- Where pieces of the cars landed
- Any traffic signs that should have been obeyed
If you are able, take as many photos from as many angles as you can.
Witness statements are also necessary, because passersby are uninvolved and neutral, so judges and juries are more likely to believe them over you or the other driver. You should gather names, addresses, and phone numbers of witness that are willing to testify so you can use them in your claim.
Police reports have even more influence than witness statements. If you are ever involved in an accident, always call the police. Most states do have laws requiring police involvement for more severe accidents involving injuries or high damage costs.
However, you may not think it’s necessary in a small accident, but you never know what problems may occur afterwards. You should be able to get copy of the police report from the police station that responded to the accident. Ask the officer the best way to access a copy of the report.
What is Negligence?
When you prove that the other driver was negligent, you can have a successful personal injury claim. There are four elements of negligence – showing that the other party owes you a duty or a responsibility, showing that duty or responsibility was breached, showing the breach of duty led to the accident, and then showing the damages that you suffered were directly from the accident in question.
As an example, all drivers have a duty to drive safely and protect others from harm. If a driver drives distracted or doesn’t adhere to traffic laws, then he or she has breached the duty.
If a driver runs a stop sign and crashes into the side of your vehicle, then he or she has breached the duty. Then third element of negligence is showing that breach caused the accident, which in this case it caused a car to crash into your side.
And then lastly, show that accident was the direct cause of your damages, such as a damaged vehicle and physical injuries. Your personal injury attorney will build your accident injury claim based on negligence and proving that the other driver acted negligently and that led to the crash that resulted in your damages and injuries.
What Damages Could Occur To Your Vehicle?
There are various damages that your vehicle could sustain in a crash. It depends on the point of impact, the severity of the crash, and the speed of vehicles. Sometimes, a minor fender bender occurs which leaves minimal damages to the cars, such as chipped paint, minor scratches, or quarter sized dents or dings.
However, a more serious crash, such as a T-bone accident or a head-on collision could lead to deployed airbags, mechanical damages such as a damaged engine or transmission, or severe body damage that requires replacing a hood, door, fender, or other parts.
You will need to take your vehicle to a qualified automotive repair facility, so they can thoroughly inspect your car and prepare a written estimate that details the cost of fixing any damages.
You should also be sure to get photos of the damages, so you can prove the extent of the damages suffered by the crash. You will need to maintain thorough documentation to show your losses and to support your claim. The more evidence that you have that will show your damages, the more likely you are to recover a fair settlement to pay for your losses.
If the cost of repairing your vehicle exceeds the actual book value of it, then your car will be considered a total loss. When a car is totaled, the insurance company will give you the fair market value of the car.
The value is based on the make and model of the vehicle, the condition of your car, its mileage, and your location. Your accident injury lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company and ensure you are treated fairly throughout the claims process and will make sure you get a fair settlement for your losses.
Writing a Demand Letter to Dispute Fault
You may need to write a demand letter to dispute that you were not at fault for the accident. In your demand letter you will need to demonstrate that you were not at fault for the damages from the accident and that the other party was at fault.
In the heading of the claim letter, you should include the insurances’ information as well as the file number for your claim. Then continue on to the body of the letter. In the body of the letter, you will need to describe the accident. Keep this to facts, and not your opinion.
You will want to acknowledge that the insurer disagrees that the other party is liable. Here, include facts that will show that you are not at fault for the damages resulting from the accident. If there are any facts against your, try to explain why these are incorrect and provide factual evidence to support this.
Go into detail of the car damages. They may help show that you were not at fault and that the other driver caused the accident. You should also include detailed information about your injuries sustained in the accident. Explain the costs of the damages to your car and body.
If you were out of work, go into detail of how much work you missed and any wages that were lost. If possible, reference a note from the doctor stating you cannot work due to your injuries from the accident.
What To Include With Your Demand Letter Disputing Fault
When you write a demand letter, you will also need to supply evidence to support your claim and statements within the letter. With your demand letter, you should include the following:
- Witness Statements: If possible, gather any witness statements from neutral sources (such as a bystander). These may be more persuasive than a statement from a passenger in your car at the time of the accident.
- Pictures and Videos: If you have any images of the damages (whether to your car or body), pictures of the accident or video footage of the accident, include these with your letter.
- Medical Support: If you were injured, include copies of your medical bills, doctor’s notes, and other pieces for evidence that can show your injuries were a result of the accident. Include any notes you may have from your doctor regarding your ability to work if you were out of work due the injuries.
- Car Repair Invoices: If your car suffered damages, include any invoices from the work you had done. These can help support the amount you are requesting.
- Missed Work: If you had to miss work, include any supporting documents you may have to show why you missed work and how much work you missed. You will also want to include proof of your wage to demonstrate how much you had missed in wages.
Filing Your Own Claim
When sending your own demand letter, you need to not only include a description of the event and the damages and injuries you sustained, but you also need documentation. Provide copies of repair invoices, hospital bills, police reports, and your photos.
Being organized and calm is important. It’s frustrating to have to fight the decision, but getting angry may make the insurance companies and court officials less likely to want to work with you.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you were involved in an auto accident and have questions regarding how to dispute fault, you should schedule an appointment with a personal injury attorney today. An attorney will help you make sure you have all the information you need and give you the best chance of winning your case.