A recent study revealed that there are around 6 million car crashes in the US annually. This ranges from small bumps to multi-vehicle collisions. Have you recently been in an auto accident?

The aftermath of a car crash can be overwhelming. Not only the initial shock but then knowing your lawful position. It’s important to understand the legal considerations as soon as possible. Knowing your rights and obligations could save you time, money, and potential stress.

From collision damage to filing with your auto insurance company, it’s a good idea to enlist the help of some sort of legal support. They will give you the most up-to-date legal advice after your car accident so you don’t miss any details or incur hidden liabilities or expenses down the road.

Make sure you understand all the legal considerations after a car accident. Read on to find out the key steps and processes.

What is Car Accident Law?

The laws of car accident liability determine who must be held accountable for any physical and property damage caused by a traffic crash.

Negligence is a key legal principle at the core of car accident litigation. These state law regulations are just like other personal injury cases. With this notion in mind, it’s essential to understand each state’s specific statutes and procedures for driving-related disputes.

What Is Fault?

When someone or an entity negligently causes another individual harm, personal injury law permits the harmed party to seek compensation for their damages. The term of this area of legislation is “fault.” This determines who or what should be held responsible for any mishap that caused such distress.

Generally, when a car accident is caused by someone’s negligence or recklessness, they are held responsible for any harm inflicted on other parties. This financial obligation is typically enforced through their insurance provider.

When filing a car accident insurance claim or appearing in court, you must provide evidence to demonstrate things like:

  • The person at fault wasn’t careful
  • The actions of the other person caused your injuries
  • You suffered losses as a result of the accident, this can include medical care, vehicle damage, and income

Determining Fault for a Car Crash

Proving who was to blame for an accident can often be a tricky task. To demonstrate who was at fault, in any collision, there are two elements one must establish:

A Legal Duty Was Owed

When you sit behind the wheel, you commit to ensuring the safety of all fellow road users including cyclists, drivers, and passengers. To do so effectively, your driving standards must remain at an optimum level.

A Duty Was Breached

For an injured road user to receive recompense, they must demonstrate that the at-fault driver failed in their responsibility to act with reasonable diligence. All motorists are expected to conduct themselves safely on a public roadway or highway.

If there is any breach of this obligation, then it is deemed that the errant driver will be accountable for all costs related to injuries and damages resulting from said accident.

Legal Consequences of a Car Accident

Following a car accident, there are several consequences that you may be able to claim against. Below, we’ve listed some of the main ones. This list isn’t exhaustive, and compensation is made on a case-by-case basis.

Medical Expenses

In the event of an accident resulting in injury, the medical treatment becomes the responsibility of whoever was at fault. To ensure proper compensation for these injuries and expenses, it is essential to collect any relevant medical records that document them.

If you need life-saving care, you may have two actionable insurance options. Firstly, submit your medical bills to your health insurance provider if you are already enrolled with one. Depending on the particulars of their policy, the company may initially cover costs and then be reimbursed by the responsible driver’s insurance provider.

Alternatively, you can look into your auto insurance coverage. Depending on the state that you reside in, liability insurance may cover both your and your passengers’ medical expenses regardless of who caused the incident. This is an option worth looking into for sure.

Paying For Car Damages

If you cause harm to someone else’s vehicle, your insurance coverage will cover the cost of repair. However, if those repairs exceed the car’s current value in market price, then a customary average amount must be recompensed instead.

If a repair claim is filed with collision insurance, the company will seek reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s coverage. In either circumstance, it is essential to have the vehicle available for inspection so an accurate quote for repairs can be determined.

Getting Sued

Although not all accidents invariably lead to legal disputes, sometimes it is tough to agree with the insurance company. On occasion, the insurer may deny payment of what was originally agreed upon by both parties due to a variety of reasons.

If you have been wronged and are seeking justice, consider taking legal action. Your insurer will do its best to dispute the other party’s claim, yet if the damages exceed your coverage limit, it could leave you financially responsible for any additional costs.

Criminal Offenses

While most accidents do not lead to criminal charges, it is important to note that this can be the case if certain conditions are met. Reckless driving or impaired behavior due to drugs and alcohol could result in legal repercussions for the individual who caused such an accident.

Depending on where you are and the extent of damage or injuries caused, punishments will vary. If your car only sustained minor cosmetic damages the driver is liable and is primarily accountable for any personal injuries suffered.

Why Proving Fault Matters After a Car Accident

It is essential to pinpoint blame when it comes to a car accident since most states utilize a “fault” system for economic accountability.

In “fault states,” the liability for losses resulting from a car accident lies with the at-fault driver’s insurer. These losses may cover expenses such as auto repair costs, medical bills, lost wages, and any additional pain sustained by victims of the crash. Utilizing an insurance provider is necessary to ensure fair compensation for all involved parties!

Determining responsibility in car accident claims and personal injury cases require demonstrating negligence. If you fail to take due caution, then your carelessness can be deemed to blame for the crash.

If you and the other motorist are both responsible for an accident, you may be able to avoid full accountability with a comparative or contributory negligence defense.

For instance, if you make a left turn and hit a van that is speeding through the junction. You may be 80% liable for not ensuring a safe maneuver while the driver of the speeding van is assigned 20% responsibility. As such, your insurer may only need to cover up to 80% of any losses incurred by the other party as they were partially responsible too.

Protecting Your Legal Rights After a Car Crash

Following the proper steps after a car crash is essential to safeguarding your rights, just like in any other legal case.

What you do post-collision can have an enormous effect on how successful your claim will be in the long run; you must avoid frequent missteps which might impair it together.

Make sure you’re taking all of the necessary precautions and take the relevant steps to safeguard yourself.

Involve the Police

Following a car accident, it is important to contact the police immediately. Provide them with as much information about the incident as you can remember and be sure not to say anything which could make you culpable for any wrongdoing.

When you’re getting a police report, ensure you have made a note of any individuals’ names. The police report is essential in identifying responsibility for the auto accident.

Talk to the Witnesses at the Scene

If you are not critically injured after the accident, it is important to talk with any witnesses. Get their contact information for use in court or insurance proceedings. Be sure to provide this information to both your court and insurance companies as soon as possible.

The testimonies of these witnesses and the evidence they provide will support your case and demonstrate what truly happened.

Take Pictures to Document the Accident Scene and Any Vehicle Damage

Capturing photographs of the crash site and your car’s damage can be incredibly useful in assisting accident analysis teams to pinpoint exactly what happened. Taking pictures is an essential step in completing a successful investigation, so make sure you don’t skip it!

You might want to annotate some of the images or show diagrams to help build the story of what happened. These images can also be utilized as evidence to assist with insurance compensation claims.

Talk to a Car Accident Lawyer

Before submitting an official complaint, it may be beneficial to consult legal advice from a reputable company like Alpha Accident Lawyers about the accident.

Do your research and find a reliable attorney who can protect your interests in court. This takes the worry about the litigation process while you concentrate on getting better.

Report the Car Accident to Law Enforcement and the DMV

In most states, when anyone is injured or damage to a vehicle results from an accident, it must be reported to local law enforcement. Depending on your state’s rules and regulations, you may also need to inform the Department of Motor Vehicles of the incident. Be sure to check you abide by any mandated protocol.

In California, it is essential to file a report with the DMV within 10 days of the car accident if:

  • Someone was injured in the accident
  • Someone died in the accident
  • If more than $1,000 of damage was done to a property (vehicle or building)

Research Traffic Laws

It’s important to become familiar with the local traffic laws in your state. These can generally be found in what is referred to as the “Vehicle Code”. To gain an even better understanding of these rules it’s worth familiarizing yourself with the codes.

Researching traffic rules to build a case for your accident can be done both online and at public libraries. Pay close attention to any regulations that may have been broken. This could include rules regarding stop signs, yield signs, or red lights. Examine how these violations could potentially relate to the events leading up to your crash to strengthen your argument against the other driver’s negligence.

Get Necessary Medical Treatment

Don’t delay in assessing any pain or uneasiness you have; instead, contact your doctor immediately or get to the emergency room for further evaluation.

To make a successful claim after an automobile accident, you must provide proof that appropriate medical attention was sought for any genuine injuries. Medical records provide essential evidence for an injury claim, illustrating the severity of your injuries and how they have impacted you.

Inform Your Insurance Company

Remember that, according to your car insurance policy, you must always advise the company of any incident. This could potentially activate coverage or cause a claim. Therefore, it is essential to promptly notify your insurer whenever you’re in an automobile accident.

Submit Your Insurance Claim

It’s easy to start your claim with most insurance companies. They may have apps and online filing tools that will allow you to quickly file a claim and submit any supporting documentation.

If filing a claim directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance company (termed a “third party” claim) is more practical, your insurer can assist you in initiating that procedure.

The Next Steps

The legal considerations after a car crash can be very complex and overwhelming. Therefore, it is essential to take the necessary steps to ensure that you are protected. From taking pictures of the scene, consulting with a lawyer, and reporting the accident, there are numerous things you can do to protect yourself.

Are you unsure of your rights after a car crash? Don’t wait to find out. Contact an experienced auto accident lawyer today who can provide you with the legal advice and support you need. With their help, you can get the justice and compensation that you deserve. Looking for more informative articles, then check out more like this on the blog.

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Last Update: March 24, 2023