What Happens If I Am at Fault in a Car Accident? Can a Lawyer Still Help Me?

By  //  September 21, 2021

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Even minor car accidents can leave one or more parties involved in the accident injured. Common injuries that are sustained in car accidents include whiplash, traumatic brain injuries, cuts or lacerations, broken ribs, herniated discs, and internal bleeding.

Following an accident, the police may make a police report and state who they think was at fault for the accident and why, and/or the insurance companies may complete an investigation and assess fault. 

When it comes to car accidents, fault is important as it determines who may be responsible for the accident and whose car insurance may need to pay out for damages and injuries.

Unfortunately though, fault is not always clear and, in some cases, can be quite complex. If you were found at fault or believe yourself to be at fault for a car accident, you may have many questions including what happens now and if a lawyer can help you.

Here are some of the things you need to understand about fault and how fault can affect your case.  

What It Means to Be at Fault in a Car Accident

Fault in a car accident is exactly what it sounds like. It basically means determining who caused the accident. However, when it comes to car accidents, fault is not always one-sided. For example, if one party runs a red light, you may think that they are solely at fault for the accident.

However, if the other party was not wearing a seat belt, they have some fault for the injuries they sustained, as the injuries would be lesser if they had been wearing a seatbelt. Alternatively, if someone rear-ends a car stopped at a light, they typically are at fault for the accident.

However, if there are three lanes and the person in the right lane and the person in the left lane are both changing to the middle lane at the same time and they collide, they may both share fault for the accident. 

Fault essentially states who was at fault for an accident and why, or what percentage of the fault for the accident each party carries and why. It is important that not every accident is always 100 percent some other person’s fault. Fault can be shared, depending on the situation and circumstances. 

Determining Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident

When it comes to car accidents, determining who is at fault, or what percentage of fault each party carries, is extremely important. If you have never had a car accident before, you may be wondering how fault is determined. There are many different ways that fault can be determined following a car accident. 

One of the ways that fault can be determined is by listening to both parties explain what happened. In some situations, fault is very clear. If one person rear-ended another party, they are typically found to be at fault. If both parties give a similar story and the accident is pretty clear cut, fault may be assessed this way. 

Another way that fault may be determined is based on eyewitness reports. In some cases, you may give one story and the other driver may give another story.

For example, they may state that they had a green light, while you may state you had a green light. Eyewitnesses can help to corroborate who really had a green light or what exactly happened. This is why it is so important to get eyewitness information after a car accident, even if you are unsure if you will need it. 

Cameras are becoming vital in showing who was at fault in car accidents. Many cities have cameras at busy intersections, many houses and businesses have cameras, and many drivers are placing dashboard cameras in their car.

If an accident occurs, all of this footage can be viewed to see how the accident happened and how much fault each driver has. 

The last way that fault can be determined in an accident is through accident recreation. This is typically reserved for court cases when both parties have very different stories and there is no other evidence to show who was at fault.

Recreationists can use computer models to determine speed, impact and who was at fault based on the position the cars ended up in and where the damage on both vehicles was. 

How a Lawyer Can Help If Fault Is in Question

If fault was in question, you may be wondering if and how a lawyer can help you. If fault is in question, a lawyer can work hard to use any of the examples above to show why you may not have had any fault or why you may have had some fault, but not all of the fault.

One of the biggest misconceptions out there is that if a police report or an insurance report states you are at fault, that is the end all be all when it comes to fault. While it can be hard to overturn those opinions, they are just that, opinions. A lawyer can show why an insurance company or police report may feel you are at fault but work to contest that information. 

Comparative Negligence and What You Need to Know

In some cases, you may have some fault for the accident, but you do not have full fault for the accident. For example, you and the other driver may both have 50/50 fault for the accident. When this occurs, comparative negligence comes into play.

Comparative negligence basically takes the fault percentages and awards them to the appropriate parties when it comes to personal injury cases.

So, for example, if you are found to have 30 percent fault for an accident and the other driver is found to have 70 percent fault for the accident, their insurance will pay 70 percent of your property damage and medical expenses, and your insurance company will be responsible for paying the other 30 percent.

Likewise, your insurance company will pay 30 percent of their property and medical expenses, while their insurance will pay 70 percent of those expenses. 

Obtaining a Lawyer If You Are Solely at Fault

If you are solely at fault for the accident, and you acknowledge you are solely at fault for the accident, an attorney may still be able to help you. If you are at fault and have full coverage auto insurance, your auto insurance company is responsible for paying for your property damage and your medical expenses.

An attorney can help you to ensure you recover the money you deserve from your own insurance company following an accident you were at fault for. 

When it comes to car accidents, fault is important to determine, yet can be quite tricky and complex. Whether a police report or insurance company has blamed fault on you, and whether you agree or not with that finding, a car accident attorney may be able to provide you with help and guidance.

Here at Strong Law car accident attorneys, or attorneys can work with you to answer any and all of the questions you have, including what happens if you believe you are at fault and how to proceed if you feel you are not at fault.

Our car accident lawyers offer a free consultation and want to help you understand the situation you are in. Reach out to us today to schedule a consultation with our law firm.