Were you involved in a car crash recently? Many people who get in car accidents are blindsided when the other driver’s car insurance refuses to pay.
A car accident has the potential to be incredibly disruptive to your life. Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident, whether you were at fault or not, can be complicated and overwhelming.
If the insurance company is now saying you’re at fault, not only are you at risk of not getting compensated for your damages, you could be held liable for the other driver’s losses.
You need the legal help of a Providence car accident attorney to ensure your rights are protected and your damages are covered after an at-fault accident.
The Devastating Effects of Car Accidents in the U.S.
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, there are more than 6.7 million car crashes in the United States annually. These accidents result in more than 36,000 deaths and 2.7 million injuries.
For those who are facing more serious and long-term impacts of a car accident, the losses can be even higher. Even a relatively minor car crash can be an expensive and time-consuming disruption to life.
Repair or replacement of a vehicle, medical bills, and the financial impact on insurance are heavy burdens. This is true even in an accident that does not result in a long-term debilitating injury or death.
Often, a personal injury lawsuit can recoup some of the losses from a car accident. If you have been in a car crash that has caused injury, lost wages, or damages to your vehicle, you are likely considering filing bodily injury claims as a way to get back on track and repair some of the damage done.
If the insurance company finds you to be the at-fault driver, however, it can be difficult to get any settlement at all. However, you have some options for the next steps.
Understanding Fault and How It’s Assigned
The first thing you need to know is how fault is assigned by insurance companies. And it’s not as straightforward as it seems. Many different components go into assigning who is at fault for a car accident.
Some of them include:
- Self-reported behavior of the drivers involved (speed of travel, obedience to traffic signals, etc.)
- Toxicology reports showing drivers’ drug or alcohol impairment
- Reports from witnesses
- Video recordings captured from security cameras
- The condition of the road (debris, construction, etc.)
- Driving conditions (visibility, rain, snow, sleet, etc.)
- The condition of the vehicle prior to the crash (functional components, structural integrity, etc.)
- Forensic evidence (crash impact, location of dents, skid marks, etc.)
- The police report
Depending on the severity of the crash and how it happened, an insurance company may conduct a thorough investigation.
Rhode Island’s Pure Comparative Fault System
Rhode Island is not a no-fault state for personal injury cases. This means that the fault in your accident will be assigned based on a percentage, and typically fault is split somehow. For example, if you and the other driver are deemed equally responsible for a two-car accident, you would be found 50% at fault.
On the other hand, if one driver failed to signal while another driver was speeding and intoxicated, the split might be much more imbalanced, such as 10%/90%.
Rhode Island’s Pure Comparative Fault system allows both drivers to claim damages based on their percentage of fault.
How Fault Affects a Personal Injury Claim
If you are attempting to use a personal injury claim to recoup losses from a car accident, it’s very important to know how fault has been assigned. In most cases, injured parties only have a claim to a personal injury suit when they can substantially demonstrate that the other party was at fault for the accident.
In addition, taking a payout from an insurance company—whether it’s from your collision coverage or the other driver’s liability insurance—typically accompanies the release of responsibility for further compensation. In this case, you could not file a personal injury suit after receiving a payout from the other driver’s insurance.
When You’re Determined to be At Fault
If you’ve been determined to be at fault for the car accident by an insurance company, you may feel frustrated and at a loss for what to do next. It’s important to know that the insurance company’s assignment of fault is not the final decision on the matter.
While the parties involved often accept an insurance company’s assessment and take the payouts offered, that is not necessarily the best course of action. You should remember that an insurance company’s primary job is to mitigate risk, and their determination of fault may be biased with that goal in mind.
In addition, the fault is a complex calculation that includes information from many sources. The assigned fault may not be accurate, depending on how thorough the insurance company’s investigation was.
For example, if additional witnesses, video footage, or mitigating factors were not uncovered in the initial assessment, the assignment of fault could shift.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer in Providence, RI
The good news is, hiring an attorney who can help conduct a thorough and more detailed investigation gives you the opportunity to challenge the assignment of fault.
Ultimately, a disputed case could make it to trial, where a jury makes the determination. While the vast majority of car accident cases settle before making it to this point, ensuring you have an experienced attorney dedicated to your best interests as you work through the options leading up to that outcome is important.
If you have been injured in a car accident and are looking into your options regarding a personal injury case, contact us immediately for a free consultation.