As a personal injury attorney in Orlando for over 20 years, one of the most common questions I get is how to dispute fault in a car accident claim.
Getting into a car accident is a life-changing event. In many cases, people choose to pursue legal remedies such as civil lawsuits or insurance payouts after the fact. The outcome of these actions depends on who was actually at fault for the accident.
Although you may feel like you were completely innocent in a wreck, courts, insurers, drivers and other parties might disagree. In such cases, it’s necessary to prove that you shouldn’t be held liable for damages. Here are some tips on how to dispute fault in a car accident claim.
What Is Fault and How Is It Determined?
When determining fault after incidents like car accidents, different states and insurers follow unique rules. Most, however, adhere to the general principle that the party most at fault for the accident is the one whose negligent, careless or intentional actions had the most significant contribution to the result.
Insurance providers, court systems and other concerned parties rely on various fact examination methods to decide who’s most at fault. If they come to the conclusion that you were fully or partially to blame for an accident, they may:
- Completely reject your insurance or settlement claim,
- Hold you liable for property repairs, medical bills and other expenses, or
- Reduce the amount of compensation you receive.
What Does It Take to Dispute Fault in a Car Accident Claim
The burden of proof, or responsibility for proving your case, rests solely on you. Read our article about what to do after a car accident to ensure you understand the steps you should take immediately following a car accident. To convince insurers and courts that you aren’t the at fault party, you’ll need to leverage as many different kinds of evidence as you can, including:
Gather information about the location, aftermath and other circumstances of the accident. This form of physical evidence makes it easier for others to reconstruct what actually occurred and helps you convince them of your version of events.
In most cases, physical evidence takes the form of photographs depicting the crash scene immediately after the wreck, skid marks, loose wreckage and the damage sustained by vehicles. It may also help to obtain surveillance, dash cam or traffic light footage that depicts the crash in order to show as much as possible from multiple angles and perspectives. It’s critically important that you create these records as soon as possible after your accident so that their accuracy isn’t called into question.
Calling the police isn’t just a legal requirement after large collisions, it’s a smart response to any accident. Even in minor wrecks, the reports that the officers create could help corroborate your claims.
In addition to containing a record of your statement, police reports can also provide evidence you might not have thought of gathering. This may include supporting data about accident reconstruction, contributing road conditions or other important factors.
I can’t stress enough the importance of witnesses in your car accident claim. Courts and insurers place a high value on testimonies from impartial witnesses. Always gather the names and contact information of innocent bystanders who saw what occurred. Their accounts may ultimately support your claims that another driver was swerving all over the road, looking at their phone, violating traffic rules or engaging in other unsafe behaviors.
Protecting Your Rights After an Accident
Bear in mind that you can’t just collect evidence and hope for the best. You also need to connect the dots and make a strong formal case that proves you should be compensated or not have to compensate others.
In short, this requires a sound legal argument. In addition to reporting the events to the authorities and your insurer as soon as possible, it’s smart to proactively seek legal advisement. It may become necessary to negotiate over settlements, fight negligence charges or pursue insurers and motorists who resist taking responsibility. Having professional representation will make it far easier to manage your case, meet all the documentation requirements and successfully dispute fault in a car accident claim.
If you’ve been involved in a crash and aren’t sure what to do, contact the Orlando auto accident attorney’s at David & Philpot, P.L. today. We will review your case at no cost or obligation and if we work together, you will not be charged a fee until your case is successfully resolved.