In most car crashes, it’s clear who caused the accident by acting carelessly. It’s the driver who ran the red light, or pulled out into oncoming traffic or was distracted by a phone. Often, the police report states that one or the other of the drivers was at fault. What happens when the evidence isn’t so clear, or when the other driver accuses you of causing the crash?
The Burden of Proof
When making a legal argument or an insurance claim, the burden of proof usually rests on the victim. “Burden of proof” simply means that you have to prove that the other person was careless (or at least, more negligent than you were). You must prove to the insurance company or a court that the other driver’s negligence caused your injuries. Doing so allows you to get compensated for your medical bills, lost income, and other losses.
But what if the other party falsely accuses you of causing the accident? Do you accept liability and pay for their damages? This article explains how to dispute fault in a car accident.
If you are facing a liability dispute, seek the expert help of a Rutland, VT Car Accident Attorney.
The first several minutes after a car accident are crucial to proving fault. Simply saying the wrong thing could cost you your eligibility for damages. For instance, if you apologize to the other driver after the crash, the other driver could later claim that you admitted to causing it.
Besides watching what you say, you also need to collect evidence that could help you dispute fault. Some of the proof you should gather include:
- Photographs of your injuries, vehicle damage, and accident scene
- The other driver’s insurance details, contact information, and license plate numbers
- A copy of the police report
- The contact information of witnesses
The most helpful thing you can gather at the scene of the crash (as long as you are able to do so safely!) is the name and phone number of anyone who saw the crash happen. Most people get the driver’s information, but often if you look around you there are people standing nearby who just saw what happened.
They may be looking at you out of a storefront, or standing on a sidewalk, or pulled over in their car to make sure everyone is okay. Walk over to them and ask if they saw the crash and could you have their name and phone number please, in case there are any questions about what happened. The police investigator is probably not going to do this leg work!
Fight Your Traffic Ticket
The law enforcement officers who arrive at the accident scene will seek to determine fault. If they believe someone has committed a traffic violation, they will issue a citation. Receiving a citation is almost equivalent to proof of guilt. This is why you should fight any ticket with which you disagree.
Once you admit guilt for a ticket, you give the insurance company ammunition to use against you. They can claim that you caused the accident when you committed the traffic violation. Your best option is to plead not guilty and agree to a hearing or trial.
Your citation could be re-investigated or dismissed. Either way, you will have created a record that you dispute fault.
Write a Dispute Letter
The insurance company will most likely claim that you are to blame for an accident. After all, it is in their best interest to avoid paying you for any damages. This is why you must aggressively disagree with their statements concerning your liability. The best way to do this is to send them a dispute letter.
In your letter, you should outline the information you are disputing, which is the fault for the accident. You should also explain why you think the insurance company is wrong and include evidence to back up your claims. Make sure to keep a copy of the letter.
Be careful not to sign anything without discussing it with your attorney.
Talk to a Rutland, VT Car Accident Attorney
Knowing how to dispute a car accident fault is only the first step towards getting the compensation you deserve. You still need to hire an experienced attorney and build your case. Once you’ve done this, you can focus on your recovery as your lawyer defends your rights.
At the offices of Larson & Gallivan Law, we are dedicated to helping car accident victims get a fair settlement. We understand that money cannot erase the trauma of a crash. However, it could go a long way in ensuring your recovery.