How to Prove Fault in an Auto Accident
When you’ve been in a car accident, it’s hard to find your bearings and know what to do. If you were injured, mounting bills and time away from work can be incredibly stressful—not to mention the pain you experience from your injury.
When you know you weren’t responsible for the accident, you shouldn’t have to be stressed about the aftermath. But how do you prove someone else was at fault?
Proving fault in an auto accident can be tricky. Insurance companies and the courts take many factors into consideration. However, a successful case makes your extra effort worth it. If you work through the process and prove the other party was responsible, you can receive restitution for the damage done to you.
What Liability Is
Fault is often called liability in legal cases. The liable person in an auto accident is responsible to pay for at least part, if not all, of the damage they caused to the injured person.
What to Do After an Accident
The first steps in proving fault happens immediately after the accident. This is the time when you make your report to police and gather evidence for your case.
- Call Your Insurer: If your condition permits, call your insurer the same day as the accident. This way the events will still be fresh in your mind and you’ll be able to give them an accurate report. Be honest with your insurance company. Give them all the details of the accident in a matter-of-fact manner. However, if you live in British Columbia and have insurance through ICBC, be sure to contact us at Kenneth Cristall Law first to ensure you have a legal counsel on your side prior to speaking with ICBC. We know ICBC’s policies and, to make sure you don’t miss out on any benefits, we can also report to ICBC with the necessary facts of the accident.
- Take Pictures: If you can, make sure to take pictures of both your car and the other driver’s.
- Watch Your Words: Be careful with what you say after an accident. Above all, don’t tell the other driver, “I’m sorry,” or “It’s my fault.” Even if you think you’re just being polite, others can see this as accepting blame. Also, do not say “I’m fine,” or “I’m not hurt.” Your injury may not be apparent right away. You could be hurt and not know it yet.
How Liability Is Determined
Insurance companies are the ones who initially determine liability. Liability is determined based on negligence. Most accidents happen because someone should have been more careful. To figure out who was negligent, your insurance company will examine the evidence, including:
- Police Reports: The reports that you fill out directly after the accident will play a role in proving fault. This is why it’s so important not to say something like, “I’m sorry.” If an insurance company sees it later, you could be assigned blame.
- Witness Accounts: In most accidents, neither party wants to take the blame. Consequently, driver accounts of what happened are not always reliable. Witnesses who saw your accident happen usually have less bias and can give an opinion on who was at fault.
- Traffic Laws: If the other driver broke a traffic law or was issued a citation at the scene of the accident, he or she may be found liable. Breaking a traffic law or failing to drive responsibly shows negligence.
- Accident Scene: Your insurance company might visit the scene of the accident to determine if there are any extra factors that could have affected you or the other driver. For instance, if overgrown shrubbery is hiding a stop sign, it may help determine fault.
How to Appeal a Liability Assessment
If you do not agree with your insurance company’s liability determination, you can get a lawyer and appeal the decision. The courts can overturn any fault assessment.
Getting a Lawyer
Our auto accident lawyers at Kenneth Cristall Law work on contingency. This means they only get paid if you win your case. If you win, their fee will be a percentage of the amount.
Working with ICBC
If you live in British Columbia, our lawyers at Kenneth Cristall Law can help you work to appeal fault with ICBC. They will first speak to your adjuster or adjuster’s manager. The manager has the ability to change an assessment of fault.
If you still do not agree with the decision, you and your lawyer can go on to make a claim through the courts.
Fighting insurance companies and proving fault can be a frustrating process. However, with the help of a good lawyer, you can make sure the correct party is found responsible and receive reparation.
When you need an experienced car accident lawyer in Vancouver or surrounding areas, call Kenneth Cristall Law right away. We will be happy to represent you when you need help with your claim in Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, Coquitlam, Langley and the surrounding areas.