What Do I Do After a Car Accident That Wasn’t My Fault?
After a car accident, begin by contacting law enforcement and, if needed, emergency medical providers. Document the accident as best as you can– preferably with pictures and videos.
You should also get in touch with a Pittsburgh personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.
Determining who’s to blame
The process of determining fault can lead to one of three outcomes:
- Fault for the accident lies solely and squarely on one of the parties involved: The at-fault driver’s insurance company pays the damages, up to the prescribed limit of the policy.
- Fault for the accident is shared by both drivers: Each insurer typically pays an agreed-upon percentage of the damages.
- Fault plays no role in deciding the matter: This is the approach used in so-called “no-fault” states. Each driver is covered by their own insurance policy. Only in extreme cases is one driver allowed to file suit against the other party.
When a single party must bear the blame
Having a driver’s license is a privilege, not a right. The motorist must show that they have the maturity and good sense to operate a vehicle safely.
Sometimes, though, a driver is reckless and causes innocent people to suffer. This can play out in one or more of the following ways:
- The at-fault party fails to focus on the task of driving: Adjusting stereo controls, using a smartphone, or carrying on conversations can distract a driver long enough to cause a wreck.
- The at-fault party drives too fast for conditions: Research shows that speeding causes one in three accidents.
- The at-fault party is drowsy or intoxicated: “Intoxicated” can refer not only to alcohol but also to illicit drugs or even prescribed medications that impair a person’s ability to drive. As for sleep deprivation, it plays a role in tens of thousands of wrecks each year.
- The at-fault party disregards road signs or hazard markers: Running red lights is the most notorious example of this problem. Other examples including running stop signs, failing to slow down for marked curves, and speeding through highway construction zones.
- The at-fault party fails to maintain their vehicle: Worn brakes, bald tires, and non-functioning turn signals cause thousands of wrecks each year.
Was the other driver engaged in any of these dangerous habits at the time of the wreck? If so, then you have every right to seek compensation.
When the cause of an accident is unclear
Not every accident has a single cause. For example, both drivers may have been speeding at the time of the wreck. In other cases, both parties may claim that the other driver is to blame.
Sorting out who was at fault in these situations is the job of insurance companies and, often, the legal system. This is one of those times when talking to an attorney is a wise move.
What to do if you’re not at fault
Drivers should never bear the blame for an accident they didn’t cause. That’s why it’s essential to document as many facts about it as you can. That way, you’ll have the details you need to prove your side of the story.
Your information-gathering efforts should include:
- Getting an accident report: Police officers are trained to investigate collisions impartially. Their testimony can go a long way towards establishing your innocence.
- Talking to witnesses: Make sure to get their contact information at the time of the wreck.
- Writing down details: Human memory is faulty, especially during times of stress. Putting things down on paper or notating them on your mobile device can make all the difference to your case.
- Taking pictures and making videos: They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. This is undoubtedly true where auto accidents are concerned.
- Contacting a qualified attorney: Talking to a Pittsburgh car accident attorney is crucial for obtaining the best possible outcome from your auto collision.
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