Auto Accidents Insurance/liability
Accidents happen. If you or a loved one are involved in a motor vehicle accident, there are certain steps you must take to ensure you are financially compensated for your injuries. For the economic responsibility to be applied to the correct party, the accident must be reported to the police. At the scene of the accident, the police will create a report to be given to all parties involved.
If an accident occurs, first and foremost is to check for injury. Do not try to physically do more than you are capable of in that moment, to avoid additional injury. Second, if you are stable, check on other parties involved. These may include passengers, other drivers, or pedestrians. If anyone is in a dangerous spot, alert oncoming drivers to avoid further collision.
If 911 has not been called by a passerby already, call immediately and explain to the best of your ability what happened and what the injuries are. Request police presence to help secure the area and to make an accident report of the scene. This report will be sent to your insurance agency and will be used as evidence to determine liability and claim coverage. Securing a police report is very important. While you and the other parties may have opposing statements of fact, the police will provide a neutral report on what they see and from available witnesses.
Should you have your cell phone, take pictures of the accident, including the damage to each vehicle involved. Including pictures of the area, cross street, license plate, and any document that the other party provides for information. Keep all of this information organized to present to your insurance company to support your case and avoid allegations of fraud. Do not make any promises or claim liability, as your words might harm your case.
Depending on which state the accident occurs, there are different standards for negligence. The legal standard that the court uses to define negligence will be used to determine liability for the accident, and therefore coverage. The most common types of negligence standards are:
- Pure Contributory Negligence: either driver must be found fully (100%) liable, and the other driver completely lacking in fault. Only then will recovery be allowed.
- Modified Comparative Negligence: both parties may be found at fault, but only the person found less than half of the fault. Think 50/50, but something tips the scales. That tipping point determines liability.
- Strict Comparative Negligence: whatever portion the court determines each party is at fault for, they may still pursue for the remainder in damages they are not responsible for.
All of this can become very complicated, especially with the burdens of recovery after an automobile accident.