If you were at fault for a car accident, you may be wondering what happens next. Tons of thoughts are probably running through your head: What happens regarding the car insurance company? What do I tell the insurance adjuster? What happens to my car insurance rates? Do I have collision coverage? Do I have liability insurance? Am I liable for others’ medical expenses? Do I need a car accident lawyer?
What happens next depends on if you are in a fault state or a no fault state.
Those in no fault states will see their insurance pay for only their own damages. Those in fault states will see their insurance pay for others’ damages.
In no fault states such as Florida or New York, those who are injured in car accidents file a car accident claim with their own car insurance coverage seeking compensation for medical bills, regardless of who the at fault driver is. This means that you recover compensation for injuries, even serious injuries, from your own insurance company, whether the accident was your fault or the fault of the other driver.
In fault states such as California, though, the insurance company for the at fault party pays for the damages sustained by other parties. So, if an accident is your fault, your liability insurance pays for other parties’ medical bills, car repairs, etc.
Seven Steps To Take After A Car Accident That’s Your Fault In California
If you’re involved in a car accident that you believe is your fault in California, it’s important to take the right steps following the accident. After all, the accident may not be 100 percent your fault, so, if you take the right steps after your accident, it can give you the best chances of having the best financial outcome.
If you were in an accident in California that you believe was your fault, you should:
Pull Over And Make Sure You’re Safe
If you are able to, the first thing you should do at the accident scene is pull your vehicle over as far as it will safely go to the side of the road and make sure that you and everyone else in your vehicle is safe. After doing this, if you are able to, you should then make sure everyone else involved in the accident is safe as well. Ensuring the safety of everyone at the scene of the accident is your primary priority.
The next thing you should do is call 911. In California, you’re obligated by law to report any accident to law enforcement which involves injury, death or $1,000 or more worth of property damage. However, you should call 911 regardless.
Police reports are not admissible as evidence in court. However, they can be vital once the insurance claims process starts. You should call 911 and then request a copy of the police report once the police show up. That police report could prove vital when it comes time to prove that the accident may not have been your fault after all, or may not have been entirely your fault. By doing so, you can minimize your financial responsibility for the accident and maximize the amount of compensation you may be able to recover after the accident.
When it comes time to deal with a car insurance policy and an insurance claim, you will want to have everything documented as thoroughly as possible. One of the first things you should do is document your side of the story regarding how the accident occurred. You should do this as quickly as you can because memories can fade quickly.
You should take plenty of photographs and videos of anything you think is relevant to the accident, from multiple angles. This includes all property damage, all injuries, the weather, the roadway conditions, relevant traffic signals and signs, etc. For example, it’s very important to take pictures of the road surrounding the accident as well as any traffic signs or signals nearby. You might not realize it at the moment, but a careful investigation of your photos and videos might later reveal a dangerous roadway condition which caused your accident. In this case, this would minimize your liability for the accident and maximize the compensation you’d be eligible for after the accident.
Exchange Contact Information
You will want to exchange names, addresses, phone numbers, emails, insurance information, driver’s license numbers and license plate numbers with every other driver involved in the accident. You will also want to exchange contact information with any witnesses to the accident.
However, you will want to keep your conversation to the bare minimum necessary to exchange all of this information – no more. No small talk. Anything you say at the scene of the accident can and will be used against you in order to maximize your liability for the accident and minimize any compensation you may be eligible for.
Contact Your Insurance Provider
You need to immediately notify your insurance company and/or agent after any accident. However, you should only notify them and no more. Don’t give them a recorded statement and don’t admit fault. When it comes to anything beyond simply notifying them that an accident occurred, it’s best that you leave that to a lawyer.
Do Not Admit Fault
While you may think you were at fault for an accident, you may have actually not been at fault for it, or you may have only been partially at fault for it. If you were not at fault for the accident or were only partially at fault for the accident, you could be eligible for financial compensation for any damages you suffered in the accident. A thorough investigation of your accident could reveal that your fault was minimal or nonexistent. An experienced car accident lawyer can hire experts to investigate your accident, minimize your fault and maximize your financial recovery.
Call Nadrich & Cohen For A Free Consultation
You should call experienced car accident lawyers like Nadrich & Cohen for a free consultation. Car accident attorneys like Nadrich & Cohen typically work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you’re not charged unless and until a financial recovery is obtained for you.
A car accident law firm can investigate your accident, minimize the percentage of fault that you’re given for an accident, identify all parties at fault for your accident and maximize the compensation you’re able to recover after an accident for things like medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering and more.
How Does Car Insurance Work When You’re At Fault?
In fault states such as California, the at fault party in a car accident is financially liable for others’ damages such as medical bills, property damage, lost wages, etc. This is because California law holds those who cause accidents via negligence liable for any damages caused in the accidents.
What this means is that if you have car insurance, your insurance will pay for others’ damages up to the policy limits. If you don’t have car insurance, you’re personally responsible for paying for others’ damages in the accident.
In no fault states, however, each person involved in the accident will make a claim through their own car insurance. You will not be held liable for others’ damages in a no fault state.
What If I Don’t Have Enough Insurance To Cover Damages?
If you don’t have enough insurance to completely cover everyone else’s damages, you will be personally liable for any damages that your insurance company won’t cover.
However, say you’re on the other end of the stick and you’ve been injured by an at-fault driver with no or inadequate insurance. In this case, you will often not be able to recover much or anything beyond what their insurance company will pay you or what your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage will pay you. Just because the other driver is personally liable for your damages doesn’t mean they actually have assets to cover your damage with.
Will My Car Insurance Rates Go Up After The Accident?
Unfortunately, your car insurance rates are likely to increase after your accident regardless if you’re at fault for your accident or not.
However, if you were at fault for the accident, the increase in rates you will see will probably be much larger than if you were not at fault.
According to Bankrate data, the average driver who is at fault for an accident sees their next year’s insurance premiums increase by 42 percent, or $840.
What Happens If You Are Only Partially At Fault In A Car Accident?
California is a comparative negligence state. What this means is that as long as you weren’t 100 percent at fault for an accident, you may actually still qualify for financial compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, etc. You may still be able to recover compensation even if you were 99 percent at fault.
The way this works is this: if you are found to be partially at fault for an accident in California, the amount of financial compensation you’re eligible for is simply reduced by the percentage of fault given to you.
So, if you are ruled to be 20 percent at fault for an accident in which you suffered $100,000 worth of damages, the damages you’re eligible to receive compensation for are reduced by 20 percent, or $20,000. In this case, you would still be eligible to receive $80,000 in compensation for damages.
Should I Contact A Car Accident Attorney?
If you have been involved in an accident which you believe was your fault, you should call an experienced car accident attorney like the attorneys at Nadrich & Cohen today for a free consultation.
It’s very common that clients call us saying they’ve been injured in an accident that they believe was their fault. However, when we do an initial investigation of their accident, we’ll discover that the accident was either only partially their fault or was actually not their fault at all.
We work with a network of the best experts in California, experts such as accident reconstruction experts. These experts can investigate your case for you to determine who was really at fault for your accident. With the help of these experts, we can minimize the percentage of fault attributed to you, maximizing the amount of financial compensation you’re eligible for in the process.
We have been representing car accident victims in California since 1990. We have recovered over $400,000,000 for our injured clients. We have vast experience in minimizing our clients’ liability in car accident claims and maximizing their financial compensation.
Call us today for a free consultation, text us from this page or fill out the free case evaluation form on this page if you or a loved one was injured or killed in an accident that you believe may have been your fault. Let us put our experience to work for you toward minimizing your liability for the accident and maximizing your financial recovery.