Car accidents can be traumatizing, especially if you are partially or entirely at fault. Regardless of the accident’s severity, you might be anxious about what to do next. Different states have different laws governing accident faults. Therefore, where you live determines how fault is handled after a car accident.
- Fault states. In these states, the driver who caused the car crash is held liable for the damages and injuries of the parties involved. The damage and injury costs can be handled by the at-fault driver’s insurance company or their pocket.
- No fault states. In these states, each driver’s insurance company covers their medical costs. Injured parties have limited rights to sue the at-fault driver for their medical injuries. However, the at-fault driver is held liable for the car damages.
Which Damages Qualify for Compensation If You Are At Fault?
If you are at fault for a car accident, you will be held liable for the damages and injuries of the other driver and anyone else injured. You will be held responsible for covering their medical bills and car repairs. Having an insurance policy may prove helpful in such a scenario. But an insurance policy does not guarantee that your insurer will cover all the damage costs.
Each auto insurance is unique to the nature of damages and injuries it covers. The insurance limits and deductibles that come with insurance policies also determine the extent of damages and injuries your insurer will cover. To cover the other parties’ losses comfortably if you are at fault, you need to have these insurance policies.
- Liability Insurance Policy
A liability insurance policy helps you cover the costs of any damages and injuries resulting from a car accident you caused. This policy compensates the injured accident victims on your behalf. A liability policy has limits that dictate the extent of damages and injuries that can be covered, depending on the losses resulting from the car accident.
If the damages and injuries caused in an accident exceed your policy’s limits, you will have to cover the additional costs from your pocket. Though car accidents are unpredictable, it is advisable to consider the worst-case scenario before settling for a policy limit. The proper limit can save you from extreme financial losses that come with covering damages and injuries from your pocket.
- Comprehensive Insurance Policy
Apart from covering the other driver and injured victims, a comprehensive insurance policy protects you against all possible risks. This policy is only mandatory if dealing with a car leasing agency or car loans. However, buying one will do you more good than harm as it can cover the other drivers and your damages if you are at fault.
The deductibles dictate the amount the insurer will release as your settlement. Higher deductibles lower your insurance premiums. Before deciding on an insurance deductible, it is vital to consider the amount you can pay comfortably if you are liable for a car crash.
How To Get Compensation for Your Damages If You Are At Fault
Being at fault for an accident does not rule you out of compensation. With the right insurance policy, your insurer can also cover your damages and injuries. Which insurance policies do you need to guarantee your coverage after causing a car accident?
- Collision Insurance Policy
A collision insurance policy helps cover your car repair damages even when at fault for the crash. It can also cover the replacement costs if the car’s damages are beyond repair. A collision insurance policy is optional yet critical, especially if the value of your vehicle is high.
These policies pay up to the actual value of your vehicle. Just like a comprehensive policy, a collision policy comes with deductibles. These deductibles are selected when buying the policy. Higher deductibles lower your insurance premium.
- Personal Injury Protection Insurance Policy ( PIP)
A personal injury protection insurance policy (PIP) covers your medical and passengers’ medical costs when you are at fault for the crash. In addition to the medical expenses, a PIP covers events resulting from the collision, such as funeral costs and loss of income.
Some injuries are so severe that you must refrain from routine activities such as house chores. In such a scenario, a PIP covers any aid you might need during that period.
What Happens If You Are Partially At Fault?
Partial fault means that both drivers contributed to the crash by having a considerable amount of negligence. According to a report by Stanford Law School, at least 90% of all car crashes are fully or partially due to human error. How negligence is apportioned to the involved drivers depends on the fault laws of where you live.
The most common law is the modified comparative law which allows the involved parties to seek compensation only if their liability to the accident is less than 50%. It means that those whose liability exceeds 50% cannot receive any compensation. A pure comparative negligence law assigns fault to the drivers by calculating their level of negligence.
The faults and damages are awarded proportionately. This law allows you to seek compensation even with a liability level of 99%. A pure contributory negligence law states that if both drivers are at fault, none of them is entitled to receive compensation. It is the harshest law as it also considers drivers with as low as 1% liability unworthy to claim compensation.
What Should You Do After Causing An Accident?
Many thoughts of what to do kick in after causing a car accident. What you decide to do next determines the course of the incident. It is crucial to stay calm amid the chaos of car crashes. Staying calm gives you a clear picture of what to do next.
- Don’t Leave the Accident Scene
Regardless of how minor a car crash may seem, never leave the scene. It is against the law to leave an accident scene after causing the collision. Most at-fault drivers are tempted to run to avoid facing the law, especially when they know they are in the wrong. Some find the incidents too traumatic and hence choose to leave. Either way, it could lead to criminal charges for a hit and run, hindering your monetary recovery.
After causing an accident, stop immediately and ensure you are out of the way of traffic. If you are in the right physical state, you can leave your car to check for damages or injured victims that might need help, but under no circumstances are you allowed to leave the scene unless authorized by the local authorities.
- Report the accident
It is always a good idea to report the incident to the local authorities within the area. After stopping your car, it is the next crucial step. Local officers help to check the involved parties for injuries and summon emergency medics.
Their presence makes it easier for the medics and ambulances to access the scene without blockage from bystanders. The local authorities also investigate an accident, after which they fill out a report, a crucial document when filing for a compensation claim.
It is also vital to report the accident to your insurance company even when at fault for the crash. Be sure to inform your insurer about your accident before the claim filing day. A delay in reporting the car accident to your insurer could reduce your claim settlement. It is also the perfect reason for your insurer to deny your claim.
- Minimize Your Interaction With The Other Driver
It would be best to keep to yourself as much as possible before the local authorities arrive. When you are at fault for a car accident, you might be tempted to discuss what you did before the accident to show remorse. It can be dangerous because the other driver can use your words against you, worsening the entire incident.
The other driver could also confront you for causing the crash. In such a scenario, avoid engaging. If you have to, be polite and calm. Refrain from them until the authorities arrive. If you know you are at fault for the car crash, do not question the other driver about the accident to find out if they were also negligent. It is also essential to avoid making suggestive statements about who is to blame.
- Collect Evidence
After a car accident, you should only partially rely on the police report to file a claim with your insurer. If you are still in the right state of health after the accident, gather as much information as possible from the scene. Sufficient evidence is vital in acquiring the right amount of settlement from insurance companies. Sufficient evidence after a car crash comprises;
- The names and contact information of all involved parties.
- The names and contact information of the witnesses.
- The model, make, and license plate numbers of the involved vehicles.
- Pictures and videos of the damages and injuries.
- The local authorities’ badge numbers and contact information.