What if I am partly to blame for my car accident?

What if I am partly to blame for my car accident?

Being in a car accident can be a traumatic experience, and often, we tend to assign blame to the other party. But what if you find yourself in a situation where someone claims you are partially responsible for the accident? It's essential to understand your rights and responsibilities in such a scenario and to seek the guidance of a knowledgeable Sebastian car accident attorney who can handle your case.

There may be ways that a car accident can be partially your fault. For example, a car making a left-hand turn may have hit you. The usual rule of liability in these types of accidents is that the driver making the turn is to blame. However, the rules of liability are just a presumption. If the insurance company or the other driver has their own evidence that may show that you were at fault, it can disturb that presumption. In the example of a left-hand turn, you can be partially at fault as the oncoming driver if you were speeding or not paying attention to the road.

Alternatively, you may be partially to blame for your damages in the car accident because you made your injuries worse by not wearing a seatbelt. Even though that did not cause the car accident, it has the same functional result as you being partially at fault.

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The Other Driver May Wrongfully Blame You for the Accident

What if I am partly to blame for my car accident

Sometimes, the two drivers may tell a different version of events. In reality, the other driver may be lying because they know they can be liable for the damage they caused. They may think they can get financial compensation if they get away with their lie. When two drivers tell different stories, it is known as a "truth contest"; you may bear responsibility for part of the accident if you do not have sufficient evidence to disprove the other driver's story entirely. The end result can jeopardize your legal case.

There is an established principle in personal injury law called causation. Even when the other driver did something unreasonable, their actions must still be the cause of your injuries. There are times when you may have done something wrong yourself. Thus, the defendant is not entirely to blame for your accident injuries, and the fact that you may bear some of the blame can make things much more difficult for your case. It can even eliminate your ability to receive financial compensation entirely, or you will likely have a reduced settlement check.

However, insurance companies do not get the last word when they say you are partially to blame for the accident, and you can challenge them. You must hire an experienced car accident lawyer at the outset of your case to protect your legal rights. Otherwise, the insurance company may take advantage of you in the legal process.

Whether You Bear Partial Blame Can Determine How Much You Get

What can happen in your case depends on the law of the state in which you live. Some states do not allow you to recover a single dollar of financial compensation if you were even 1 percent to blame for the car accident. These laws can be stringent and unforgiving, making it even more crucial for you to get legal help. Even a slight misstep in your legal case can result in you coming away empty-handed.

Other states may be at the other end of the spectrum and allow you to recover financial compensation, even if you were mostly to blame for the accident. Still, you do not want the insurance company to take liberties by blaming you because it will still cost you money. If you were due $100,000, and the insurance company is wrongfully saying that you were 20 percent to blame, it would still cost you $20,000, and you would need to pay your expenses and defray your damages.

Some states allow you to receive compensation if you were less than 50 percent to blame for the accident—the amount of your compensation ties directly to the percentage of the blame you bear. If you are more than 50 percent to blame for the accident, you do not get any type of recovery. If liability in the accident is a close call, you have quite a bit on the line and every reason to hire an experienced car accident lawyer.

You Can Fight the Insurance Company When It Is Wrong

You Can Fight the Insurance Company When It Is Wrong

Insurance companies do not get the final say when they determine that you are partially to blame for the accident. Even if the determination results from an arbitrator's decision, it is still not the last word about your legal rights. Remember that the insurance claims process is informal, but nothing says you must deal with the insurance company outside of court.

Insurance companies have every financial motivation to blame you for the accident, in whole or part. They know the more allegations against you they can make stick, the less they will have to pay you. The insurance company always has a conflict in your claim because its money pays you.

If you disagree with any determination the insurance company has made, you can always fight back. Your lawyer can continue to negotiate with the insurance company so that it can reach a more favorable determination. Insurance companies may know their position will not hold up in court when a jury sees the evidence and decides.

A Jury Can Decide Who Is to Blame

If you are not satisfied with the claims process's result, you always have the legal right to take your case to court. The jury has the final decision-making power, no matter how much the insurance company tries to convince you that it has control. In reality, it does not.

The jury will hear the evidence and determine who bears what portion of the blame. The only risk is that the jury may reach a decision that is even less favorable to you than the one determined by the insurance company.

However, juries do not have the same financial motivation as insurance companies. They will take a completely impartial view of the evidence and make their own decision after hearing the cases presented by both sides.

The Insurance Company Can Also Be Liable

Note that insurance companies do not have an unlimited ability to get away with any tactic that they may try to use in your case. If their determination that you were partially to blame was entirely at odds with the reality of your case, it may even cross the line to bad faith. Then, you can sue the insurance company for the harm its wrongful conduct caused you. To beat insurance companies at their own game, you need the help of an experienced lawyer who can fight back on your behalf.

Do Not Say Anything to the Other Driver's Insurance Company

Insurance companies can sink your case, so you must be extremely careful about talking to them. Preferably, you should not even talk to them at all. However, they may try to talk to you, especially early in your case, before you even can get your bearings. All it takes is one loose or careless statement, and the insurance company thinks that it has evidence to use against you to harm your case.

If you hire an experienced lawyer early in your case, it takes away the ability of insurance companies to pressure you into speaking with them. They will need to go through your lawyer to talk to you; most lawyers will need a valid reason to allow that to happen. There is nothing that says that you have to speak with an insurance company and no good can come of it. Insurance companies want to get you on the record in case you accidentally incriminate yourself.

You Need to Hire an Experienced Attorney for Your Case

You Need to Hire an Experienced Attorney for Your Case

Either way, you need an experienced attorney to protect your legal interests in a car accident case. An attorney can help gather evidence and build a strong case to demonstrate that the other party involved bears a significant portion of the blame. They can also negotiate with insurance companies and ensure that you are not taken advantage of during the claims process.

Unfortunately, your lawyer's job may also be having to stand up for you and fight back when the insurance company wrongfully blames you for part of the accident. Insurance companies may not even try to get away with that maneuver if they know that you have a lawyer. They may be more likely to pull that move on a claimant they know cannot fight back. When you hire an attorney, insurance companies know that there is someone who can take them to task.

How Your Lawyer Can Defend You from Unfair Allegations

Still, your lawyer may need to defend you from unfair accusations. Their job may be as much about disproving wrongful allegations as it is proving that the other driver was at fault. At the same time that your lawyer gathers evidence that shows the other driver was to blame, they may also assemble proof of what you did in the events leading up to the accident. They can use the following to help prove your case and defend you from what the insurance company is saying:

  • Witness testimony from objective third parties who were in the vicinity and saw what happened
  • Pictures from the scene of the evidence
  • Dashcam footage from your car or from another driver who was in the area (you may even subpoena dashcam footage from the other driver, although they may have the ability to manipulate the footage)
  • Testimony from an accident reconstruction expert

Although it may seem unfair, you must deal with these allegations to recover compensation to the fullest extent possible. Your lawyer may need to defend your actions as much as they prove what the other driver did. It may feel like your lawyer is acting as a defense attorney, but that is what is necessary.

You Need to Hire a Lawyer as Soon as Possible

You cannot afford to delay hiring a car accident lawyer. Insurance companies can be very devious in the immediate days after the accident; they do not care if you suffered an injury or are in the hospital. They think nothing of ambushing you or trying to trick you into giving a statement. They often take your words out of context and twist them to make your legal case more difficult. Your lawyer gets paid the same percentage of the proceeds of your case no matter when you hire them, so it makes sense to retain counsel early. If you have yet to hire a lawyer, it is crucial that you not talk to the other driver's insurance company under any circumstances. You should even be careful what you say to your own insurance company without first talking to a lawyer.

Money Will Not Get in Your Way When You Need a Lawyer

If you fear that your shaky finances will keep you from getting legal help, you can rest assured that they will not. Every car accident victim can hire a lawyer, no matter how much or little money they have, because they do not have to pay any money out of pocket. Your lawyer signs a representation agreement with you, which is a contract. The document says they get paid a percentage of your case's proceeds. You do not have to pay your lawyer if you do not win your case, and you do not have to pay any money out of your own pocket at any point during your case.

No matter the degree of fault, always remember that you have rights and options. Consulting with a personal injury lawyer who handles car accident cases can provide you with the necessary guidance and support to make informed decisions about your case. With their experience and knowledge, you can confidently navigate the legal system and work towards obtaining the compensation you deserve.