How to Dispute Car Accident Fault

How to Dispute Car Accident Fault

Sometimes, car accidents happen despite everyone’s best efforts and intentions. Even the safest drivers can find themselves in a collision, either due to a momentary slip in judgment, or circumstances beyond anyone’s control. In some cases, it can be clear which person was at fault, while in others, it may be far more murky.

If you have been found to be at fault for an accident that you did not cause, it is important to dispute this decision as soon as possible. We’re sharing the following guide to help you know which steps to take, whether a dispute is worth it, and how a lawyer can help your case.

How Fault Is Determined in an Accident

When understanding how fault is determined in an accident, there are several important factors to consider. The first is what determination the police make. Next, is what decision the insurance companies make.

The police should almost always be notified when there is a car accident. For more serious accidents, a police officer will be dispatched to the scene to conduct an initial investigation. This investigation may or may not result in citations for one or more of the drivers.

When the drivers contact their insurance companies to report the accident and make a claim, agents from the insurance companies will also conduct an investigation to piece together the accident. This can include interviewing drivers, talking to witnesses, inspecting vehicles, and examining documents and police reports.

The insurance companies will then make a determination of who was either totally or partially at fault in the accident, which will then affect who is liable for damages. It is important to understand that Florida is a no-fault state, which requires personal injury protection insurance that guarantees medical coverage for any person in an accident, regardless of who is found to be at fault.

Despite this potentially misleading name, insurance companies and police both make determinations about fault for accidents in Florida.

Five Steps for Disputing Fault In an Accident

If you are found to be at fault for the accident and disagree with the findings, there are always steps you can take to dispute and potentially change the decision. These steps include:

  • Notify the insurance carriers that you disagree with the findings: Let the insurance company in question know right away that you disagree. Do this both over the phone and in writing to create a record of the dispute.
  • Gather any evidence that could change the outcome: You need to be able to prove that you did not cause the accident, or that someone or something else was at least partially at fault. This can include contacting witnesses who said another driver caused the accident, photos or videos that help your case, or even a sworn statement by you of your side of the story.
  • Try to amend the police report: Get a copy of the police report, and if there is something on there that you know is incorrect, try to contact the investigating officer. Present your side of the case and any evidence you have and request an addendum to the report.
  • Fight any citation you received in court: Fighting a ticket in court shows insurance companies that you are serious about disputing the claim. Accepting the charge and paying the ticket, even in good faith, can be a sign that you are accepting the judgment.
  • Appeal the decision with insurance regulatory bodies: Even if a followup investigation by the insurance company upholds the decision that you were at fault, there are still options for appeal. You can write a letter to your state office of insurance regulation and they will conduct an independent investigation into the facts of your accident. If you have compelling evidence that has previously been overlooked, this body may take it more seriously and could potentially make a favorable decision.

Protecting Yourself During an Accident and Fault Dispute

There are a number of best practices that you can do after an accident and throughout the investigation to protect yourself and increase the chances of a favorable outcome. These include:

  • Taking pictures of the scene of the accident
  • Notifying the police and insurance companies immediately
  • Getting contact information from any witnesses
  • Seeking immediate medical assistance for any injuries
  • Don’t admit any fault or responsibility to anyone, including the other driver, insurance investigators, or police
  • Don’t accept money, offer money, or discuss any type of financial settlement
  • Don’t sign any statements accepting responsibility

Another key way to protect yourself is by speaking to a car accident lawyer. It’s never too early or too late to work with an attorney who will represent you in a dispute involving the police or insurance.

Is Disputing Fault Worth It?

Especially if you are in a no-fault state like Florida, no matter who is found to be at fault, you can generally rest assured that your medical bills will be covered up to $10,000. Additionally, depending on your policy, you may have enough coverage to pay for vehicle damage for both parties. In some cases, you may only be looking at an increase in your insurance rates if you are found to be at fault.

Florida is also a comparative negligence state, which means that if the case is litigated and goes before a judge, the judge can hold both parties to be partially at fault for the accident. In many situations, this may affect the outcome from an insurance investigation and could result in only partial fault for you.

But if you are facing significant injuries, property damage, legal liability, and you truly have evidence to support your claim of not being at fault, then disputing the claim is absolutely worth it. If you have exhausted other avenues to dispute your fault, then it may be time to hire an accident attorney to represent you.

How an Attorney Can Help Your Case

During an accident investigation, the right lawyer will know the questions to ask insurance carriers and which evidence to request from police or witnesses. This can include video surveillance footage, witness testimony, and in certain situations, an accident reconstruction expert. A lawyer can also help you work with police to amend the accident report, and if you need to fight a ticket in court, car accident attorneys will be experienced in this area as well.

When it comes to disputing fault in an investigation, lawyers know how to work with insurance companies and respond to the tactics they commonly use in these scenarios. The truth is that insurance companies are less likely to attempt to bully or stall an attorney than a person trying to represent themself. Without legal representation, the potential for words and statements to be distorted and later used against you increases.

Contact Clark Hartpence Law for Fault Dispute Assistance

If you have been found at fault for an accident and believe it was a wrongful decision, you should meet with an experienced car accident lawyer to help you protect your rights. Clark Hartpence Law will be happy to provide a free consultation on your case. We are a knowledgeable and dedicated legal team ready to fight for you so you can receive a fair decision and the compensation you deserve.

Call us today at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.