Car accidents happen so often when on the road. It is easy for drivers to become distracted, make mistakes, or simply cannot react in time to a particularly hazardous situation.
Car accidents are highly common, but also very frustrated if you are involved with them. Sometimes, it can be difficult to decipher who is liable in a car accident, and thus who is determined to pay for damages or take responsibility.
In some cases, both cars can be at fault, perhaps they both merged at the same time, or neither took caution before the other, which is why it is so important to have a dash cam or some sort of evidence.
When someone is at fault in an accident, the repercussions depend on whether you are in a fault or no fault state, and your insurance policy.
What is the difference between no fault states and fault states?
Most US states are fault states when it comes to the responsibility of the driver in a vehicle accident. This means that the person who is at fault for the crash, is then liable for the financial repercussions of the event. The driver at fault will then be responsible for losses of the other driver, vehicle, passengers or any damage caused by the accident.
However, if you are in a no-fault state, then the insurance laws are a little different. In no fault states, laws require vehicle owners to have insurance for personal injury, which will cover any medical bills or economic losses suffered by the insurance holder after a car accident.
If you are the victim, or have ever been the victim of a car accident, then you know how important it is for the liable driver to take responsibility for insurance and compensation purposes.
If you are worried that you are at fault in a car accident, and you do not know what to do next, then you are in the right place. You may be certain that you are liable for the accident, and can be left wondering what happens if you are at fault in a car accident.
How will insurance companies determine fault in a car accident?
In the majority of states, most car or vehicle accidents are fault-based, which means that someone in the accident was at fault, or may have caused it due to negligence or unsafe actions.
The fault is determined by police reports, where officers will have an objective view of what happened, evidence from the scene, witnesses, and an evaluation of the environmental factors that could have played a part in the accident.
What to do at a car accident?
If you are in a car or vehicle accident, then you will first need to stop at the scene. Make sure that you are out of the way of any traffic, and check if you or anyone at the scene has any injuries. If there are any serious injuries, then you should call an ambulance on 911.
You should also call the police department and report the incident straight away. You should also remember never to leave the scene before the police arrive or you run the risk of being charged with a hit and run.
Once you have assured that everyone is okay and not harmed in any way, you will have to exchange information with the other driver or party involved.
With all of the proper information swapped, each party can provide their insurance providers with the relevant information and details of the incident. You may also want to take note of license plates, vehicle makes and models, and take photographs of the incident.
You must then inform your insurance company immediately, to give details of the accident that happened, otherwise you may not be covered.
If you have caused a car accident, then you will have to understand your insurance options, and what will happen next will depend on where you live or in which state the accident happened.
What am I liable for if I caused an accident?
In fault states, you are liable for personal injuries of the other drivers, whereas in no fault states, your insurance will cover injury damages and vehicle damages.
If you are at fault in a car accident, then generally wherever you are, your insurance will pay for vehicle damages.
The other driver may file a claim to repair their car damages through their insurance company, which will then claim reimbursement from your insurance company to cover the amount.
Therefore, in most cases you will not be personally liable to pay for any vehicle damages. However, if you need to fix your vehicle, you will usually have to pay an excess fee and then your insurance policy will cover the rest.
Also, your insurance policy may go up or be affected if you are found at fault or if you were driving negligently before causing the collision.
With no fault states and no fault insurance, if you are in a car accident, then your insurance will pay for all or at least some of the medical bills, lost earnings and any damages or injuries caused by the accident.
If you are in a fault state, then you may be liable to pay for personal injuries caused by the accident. If the accident is your fault, then you may be at risk of the other driver bringing you a personal injury lawsuit as a result of your negligence.
Although many insurance providers will sell you liability coverage in case of these claims, many people still cannot afford to pay the full amount that they are sued for.
For instance, if you have a $100,000 liability insurance coverage, but you are sued for $300,000, then you could be personally liable for the excess of $200,000 in damages if the victim wins in court.
This is why you should always try to get the best insurance coverage that you can afford, and always try to be as attentive to the road as possible. Accidents however, do happen and are sometimes unavoidable, so try not to beat yourself up too much if you are at fault.
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