Proving You're Not at Fault in a Car Accident
You go into a fender bender, or rather, someone bent their fender on your car. Even though you are sure you're not at fault, the insurance companies seem less certain. How can that be? What do you need to do to prove you did not cause the crash?
Laws vary from state to state and fault determinations in most car accidents are based on motor vehicle statutes, so it's impossible to address your situation specifically without more details. But we can generally examine the law, auto insurance, and the factors that go into deciding who is at fault after an accident.
Liability insurance is required of all automobile owners in all 50 states. That means that most car accidents, especially those that do not result in serious injury, are resolved between insurance companies.
The auto insurance industry had lobbied state legislatures to base car accident liability on motor vehicle statutes, as opposed to common law principles of fault. This allows insurers to more easily challenge liability and fault after accidents where there was a traffic law violation or when a driver is not insured.
As such, you must look up the law in your state to determine what it says precisely about the allocation of blame and liability. For example, if there is evidence that you failed to signal a lane change and that's how the other driver ended up crashed into the back of your car, that will impact fault.
Say the other driver involved in the accident points out that you didn't signal. The motor vehicle law in your state likely requires you to indicate a lane change and your failure to do so can be enough to shift all blame to you.
But that doesn't mean it's the end and now you'll be paying for the accident. If you are dealing with an insurer, you can provide evidence that you are not at fault because something else was happening on the road that necessitated the very quick lane change, for example.
Generally speaking when dealing with insurers, you don't need to have the kind of evidence required in civil litigation. But it does not hurt to have a police report or witness information or photographs, some record of what happened on the road. And of course some accidents end up resolved through negligence suits.
Talk to a Lawyer
Some cases are best handled in court and not by insurers, especially when injury is very severe or damages extensive. If you were injured in a car accident and you want to find out more about negligence litigation, speak to a lawyer. Many personal injury attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to discuss your claim.
- Find Personal Injury Lawyers in Your Area (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory)
- Car Insurance Claims Dos and Don'ts (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
- Get Legal Help With a Motor Vehicle Accident (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
- After a Car Accident: First Steps (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
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