Every day thousands of people are involved in traffic accidents around the country. Many are minor fender benders in which no one is seriously hurt, but some accidents are more serious. This leaves many people injured, most people annoyed, and everyone inconvenienced. It’s a long process to deal with a car accident no matter how minor it is, and no one wants to deal with this mess. From police reports to insurance claims to injuries, medical bills, and potential lawsuits, it’s one more issue after another. It also leaves you wondering about fault. How is it determined, who is to blame, and what do you do once that’s been determined whether you agree with it or not? Todd Spodek, founding partner at Spodek Law Group (www.nyccriminalattorneys.com) is here to help answer some of these questions.
Who Determines Fault?
Fault is sometimes easily determined, and sometimes it’s not. During most accidents, the police who arrive on the scene determine who is at-fault. They are responsible for creating a police report. How they go about figuring out who caused the accident is a delicate point. First, they take into account the stories told by both drivers involved. They also listen to witness statements, and they use the cars involved to determine fault.
In most cases, the position and damage to a car is enough to tell who caused the accident. For example, most people who are hit when a left-turn driver makes that turn are the innocent victims. Almost all left-turn drivers are at-fault. Almost all drivers who are hit from behind are innocent, and it’s the person who hit them to blame.
There are always extenuating circumstances to every rule, and that’s where it becomes difficult to figure out who is at-fault during an accident. Perhaps a driver was making a left turn when another driver ran a red light and was hit in that manner. Police officers take the evidence and the statements from anyone involved or who witness an accident and they figure out who might to be to blame in that aspect.
What Happens Next?
When fault is determined on the scene, insurance claims are made. If the at-fault driver decides he or she is not responsible for the accident, they can dispute it. They might have their insurance agent tell the victim they are not going to pay for any damages until an investigation occurs, and they might continue to deny liability. This leads the victim to wonder what to do next. The other driver’s insurance agency is not working with you, and you’re left wondering how to pay for the damage to your car.
This is when you call your own insurance agency and a personal injury attorney. Your insurance agency will help complete an investigation as well as pay for the cost of repairing your car, your medical bills, and your lost wages while you wait for your lawsuit to settle. They will also go after the other driver and their insurance company to recover their own lost costs.
If fault is denied, there will be another investigation. This is one the insurance agency handles on their own. This is why you want to complete your own investigation, and you want to continue to maintain the other driver is to blame.
To Avoid Denied Claims
You never know if another driver is going to deny fault in an accident. This is why you should get out of your car if your injuries allow, and take as many photos as you can. The more photos you take, witnesses you find, and the more evidence you have to prove you were not to blame, the easier it is to reach the satisfactory end of an investigation.
Not all drivers are willing to accept blame for an accident. Some genuinely feel they are not to blame, others are afraid of their own insurance rate hikes, and others are just unwilling to pay for the cost of the damage they inflicted upon someone else. You don’t know who will later change their mind about this, which is why you should always take photos, and it’s why you should contact a personal injury attorney so you can cover all your bases in case an accident occurs and someone denies their liability.