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What to do After a Car Accident That is Not Your Fault

The scene of a car crash is often fraught with emotion and fear, particularly if you were blindsided and the victim of another driver’s carelessness. In the blink of an eye, lives can change as a result of a distracted, drunk or otherwise careless driver.

In 2016, the most recent year data is available, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 37,461 motorists were killed, an increase of 5.6% from 2015. What’s more, the cost of medical care after an accident and productivity loss cost $80 billion, as well.

Their study found the most common causes of fatal car crashes:

  • Drunk-driving deaths (10,497 deaths)
  • Speeding-related deaths (10,111 deaths)
  • Unbelted deaths (10,428 deaths)
  • Fatal motorcyclist deaths (5,286 deaths– the highest number of such fatalities since 2008)
PASSENGER VEHICLE OCCUPANT FATALITIES WHO WERE UNRESTRAINED*, BY AGE GROUP
< 4 YEARS 4 – 7 YEARS 8 – 12 YEARS 13 – 15 YEARS16 – 20 YEARS 21+TOTAL
201645 (21%)67 (21%)116(48%)128 (62%)128 (62%)8,851 (48%)10,428 (48%)
201554 (26%)71 (26%)93 (42%)128 (57%)128 (57%)8,445 (48%)9,968 (48%)
201435 (21%)66 (33%)92 (47%)126 (59%)126 (59%)7,938 (48%)9,9410 (49%)
SOURCE: FARS *WHERE RESTRAINT USE WAS KNOWN.
ALCOHOL-IMPAIRED DRIVING FATALITIES AND
FATALITY RATE PER 100 MILLION
VMT
FATALITIESFATALITY RATE
201610,4970.33
201510,3200.33
20149,9430.33
SOURCE: FARS/FHWA
SPEEDING-RELATED FATALITIES
201610,111 (27%)
201510,111 (27%)
20149,283 (28%)
SOURCE: FARS

If you’re seeking compensation from a car crash which totaled your car, rendered you injured and at risk of losing income from being unable to work, learn these best practices to prove that a car accident was not your fault.

At-Fault versus No Fault Insurance – What’s the Difference?

California is a “fault” state when it comes to auto accidents, meaning that one person is found primarily responsible for an accident, versus other states, like Florida and New York, in which motorists cannot sue one another for liability in a car crash.

By contrast, a “fault” state such as California requires that the drivers must prove who was liable for the crash. What this means, is that the not-at-fault driver has the onus to show that the other motorist caused an accident due to their negligence, such as texting while driving, or running a stop sign at a four-way stop.

Because California is an at-fault state, that means that you will have to find an experienced auto accident attorney familiar with California law and comparative negligence matters.

Map of at fault and no fault states

The First Steps After the Car Accident: Document Everything at the Scene

First of all, remain calm. If you or your passengers are not debilitatingly injured, pull to the side of the road so as not to block traffic. While it’s easy to become frightened, angry or hysterical in the event of a car crash, it’s important to keep your wits together in order to sufficiently document all the aspects of the accident.

Once the emotions subside, it’s important to document everything you can at the scene of the crash. If public property was damaged or injuries were sustained, you should call the police to file a report. In the event of a death, it is required by law to notify the local Department of Motor Vehicles.

Remember when speaking to the other driver, never apologize or admit fault for the accident, or you could be at fault for the accident and not receive compensation – even if you think you deserve it.

Your first order of business should be to collect the other driver’s name, address, registration, and car insurance. You’ll want to preserve as much evidence as possible, so make sure to take photos of the wreckage on your smartphone.

Collecting witness testimonies is another highly valuable way to prove you were not at fault in a car accident. Ask witnesses to describe the location of the accident, identifying the street, lanes and landmarks that were involved. The witness’ statement should also include estimated distances, speeds and times of the two or more drivers involved in the crash.

After all information is collected, make a call to your car insurance carrier and that of the at-fault driver to report the accident and get the payout for your losses.

Notifying the Appropriate Parties of the Accident

Once you’ve left the scene of the car accident, a police report has been filed, and you have sought any necessary medical attention, you should turn your attention to reporting the accident to your car insurance carrier to file a claim as soon as possible.

An important step to take after you get home from the scene of the car crash is to contact your own insurance company to report the accident. A claims adjuster will be assigned to your case, and his/her role is to investigate who was at fault for the accident, taking into account all of the evidence presented. If your car is damaged so much to make it unsafe or impossible to drive, your adjuster will set up a towing service to remove your vehicle from the scene. The claims adjuster will also help you procure a rental car for the interim while your car is being either repaired or replaced.

How Car Insurance Plays a Role in Compensation

Your compensation amount will vary depending on five main factors:

  1. Injuries sustained in the wreck.
  2. The car insurance you have.
  3. The car insurance the other driver who is at-fault has.
  4. Any medical expenses incurred.
  5. Loss of income due to being unable to work.

One major reason car insurance is required in 49 U.S. states is because it protects drivers from unforeseen expenses arising from car wrecks. California requires liability coverage in addition to certain minimum coverages. Coverages include minimum requirements for bodily injury or death and liability limits for property damage.

After you involve your car insurance carrier to assess fault from a car accident, a claims adjuster will be assigned to your case. His/her role is to determine fault by reviewing all evidence collected from the accident, such as damage to the vehicle and reviewing witness accounts, as well as taking medical expenses into consideration.

Once the adjuster has gathered all the information, s/he may offer the not-at-fault party a settlement, which is generally quite low. Don’t accept the first settlement offer. This is when it is advisable to hire a personal injury attorney to get you the compensation you deserve.

Cases Where You’ll Never be Found at Fault

“No Doubt Liability” includes types of accidents that are always the other driver’s fault.

Examples of no-doubt liability:

  • Admitting that you caused the accident to the other driver. Even a simple apology can mean you’ll be stuck with the bills and an increase in your insurance premium rate.
  • If the other driver was intoxicated, s/he will always be found at fault.
  • Rear-end collision. “Fender benders” are almost always the fault of the person who struck the other vehicle from behind.
  • Running a red light, or not obeying a yield or stop sign.

How Much Will You Collect?

This is a complex relationship between your insurance and the insurance of the at-fault driver. Unfortunately, many drivers in California are uninsured or underinsured, making getting compensation for your losses much more difficult. However, you can protect yourself against this inconvenience by adding coverage for un-/underinsured motorists.

You can further protect yourself with other types of coverage added to your insurance:

  • Med Pay is an additional coverage that can be added to your insurance policy to help pay medical bills resulting from a car accident.
  • Lost Wages. Some car insurance carriers will offer coverage for lost wages, which can have a devastating impact on the driver who was involved in a car crash if they are not covered.

Rental car coverage.What to do After a Car Accident That is Not Your FaultThe scene of a car crash is often fraught with emotion and fear, particularly if you were blindsided and the victim of another driver’s carelessness. In the blink of an eye, lives can change as a result of a distracted, drunk or otherwise careless driver.In 2016, the most recent year data is available, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 37,461 motorists were killed, an increase of 5.6% from 2015. What’s more, the cost of medical care after an accident and productivity loss cost $80 billion, as well.Their study found the most common causes of fatal car crashes:

  • Drunk-driving deaths (10,497 deaths)
  • Speeding-related deaths (10,111 deaths)
  • Unbelted deaths (10,428 deaths)
  • Fatal motorcyclist deaths (5,286 deaths– the highest number of such fatalities since 2008)

If you’re seeking compensation from a car crash which totaled your car, rendered you injured and at risk of losing income from being unable to work, learn these best practices to prove that a car accident was not your fault.

At-Fault versus No Fault Insurance – What’s the Difference?

California is a “fault” state when it comes to auto accidents, meaning that one person is found primarily responsible for an accident, versus other states, like Florida and New York, in which motorists cannot sue one another for liability in a car crash.

By contrast, a “fault” state such as California requires that the drivers must prove who was liable for the crash. What this means, is that the not-at-fault driver has the onus to show that the other motorist caused an accident due to their negligence, such as texting while driving, or running a stop sign at a four-way stop.

Because California is an at-fault state, that means that you will have to find an experienced auto accident attorney familiar with California law and comparative negligence matters.

The First Steps After the Car Accident: Document Everything at the Scene

First of all, remain calm. If you or your passengers are not debilitatingly injured, pull to the side of the road so as not to block traffic. While it’s easy to become frightened, angry or hysterical in the event of a car crash, it’s important to keep your wits together in order to sufficiently document all the aspects of the accident.

Once the emotions subside, it’s important to document everything you can at the scene of the crash. If public property was damaged or injuries were sustained, you should call the police to file a report. In the event of a death, it is required by law to notify the local Department of Motor Vehicles.

Remember when speaking to the other driver, never apologize or admit fault for the accident, or you could be at fault for the accident and not receive compensation – even if you think you deserve it.

Your first order of business should be to collect the other driver’s name, address, registration, and car insurance. You’ll want to preserve as much evidence as possible, so make sure to take photos of the wreckage on your smartphone.

Collecting witness testimonies is another highly valuable way to prove you were not at fault in a car accident. Ask witnesses to describe the location of the accident, identifying the street, lanes and landmarks that were involved. The witness’ statement should also include estimated distances, speeds and times of the two or more drivers involved in the crash.

After all information is collected, make a call to your car insurance carrier and that of the at-fault driver to report the accident and get the payout for your losses.

Notifying the Appropriate Parties of the Accident

Once you’ve left the scene of the car accident, a police report has been filed, and you have sought any necessary medical attention, you should turn your attention to reporting the accident to your car insurance carrier to file a claim as soon as possible.

An important step to take after you get home from the scene of the car crash is to contact your own insurance company to report the accident. A claims adjuster will be assigned to your case, and his/her role is to investigate who was at fault for the accident, taking into account all of the evidence presented. If your car is damaged so much to make it unsafe or impossible to drive, your adjuster will set up a towing service to remove your vehicle from the scene. The claims adjuster will also help you procure a rental car for the interim while your car is being either repaired or replaced.

How Car Insurance Plays a Role in Compensation

Your compensation amount will vary depending on five main factors:

  1. Injuries sustained in the wreck.
  2. The car insurance you have.
  3. The car insurance the other driver who is at-fault has.
  4. Any medical expenses incurred.
  5. Loss of income due to being unable to work.

One major reason car insurance is required in 49 U.S. states is because it protects drivers from unforeseen expenses arising from car wrecks. California requires liability coverage in addition to certain minimum coverages. Coverages include minimum requirements for bodily injury or death and liability limits for property damage.

After you involve your car insurance carrier to assess fault from a car accident, a claims adjuster will be assigned to your case. His/her role is to determine fault by reviewing all evidence collected from the accident, such as damage to the vehicle and reviewing witness accounts, as well as taking medical expenses into consideration.

Once the adjuster has gathered all the information, s/he may offer the not-at-fault party a settlement, which is generally quite low. Don’t accept the first settlement offer. This is when it is advisable to hire a personal injury attorney to get you the compensation you deserve.

Cases Where You’ll Never be Found at Fault

“No Doubt Liability” includes types of accidents that are always the other driver’s fault.

Examples of no-doubt liability:

  • Admitting that you caused the accident to the other driver. Even a simple apology can mean you’ll be stuck with the bills and an increase in your insurance premium rate.
  • If the other driver was intoxicated, s/he will always be found at fault.
  • Rear-end collision. “Fender benders” are almost always the fault of the person who struck the other vehicle from behind.
  • Running a red light, or not obeying a yield or stop sign.

How Much Will You Collect?

This is a complex relationship between your insurance and the insurance of the at-fault driver. Unfortunately, many drivers in California are uninsured or underinsured, making getting compensation for your losses much more difficult. However, you can protect yourself against this inconvenience by adding coverage for un-/underinsured motorists.

You can further protect yourself with other types of coverage added to your insurance:

  • Med Pay is an additional coverage that can be added to your insurance policy to help pay medical bills resulting from a car accident.
  • Lost Wages. Some car insurance carriers will offer coverage for lost wages, which can have a devastating impact on the driver who was involved in a car crash if they are not covered.
  • Rental car coverage.

If your car is totaled, you will also be paid out for the market value of the car.

Should You Involve a Car Accident Attorney?

You might want to consider suing the other driver’s insurance company so you don’t just break even, but get a payout for the pain and suffering caused by a car crash. The other driver’s car insurance carrier may refuse to pay if there is no police report and take the side of its policyholder, denying coverage. In this case, you may want to sue the other driver’s company to reach a fair settlement.

Having an attorney evaluate your case means you can have an expert in your corner to hash out the difficult car accident law in California. Many car accident lawyers even do free consultations, too.

Contact Wilshire Law Firm

After a car crash, you’ll want the best personal injury lawyer to parse out the facts and prove that you were not at fault for a car accident. Contact Wilshire Law Firm today to learn more about how we can get you the compensation you deserve.

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