WHOSE FAULT WAS CAR ACCIDENT? HOW INSURANCE DECIDES
Whose fault was your car accident? Who is going to have to pay for damages? What if both parties did something that caused the wreck? Insurance companies conduct lengthy investigations because the issue is often complex.
FAULT IN TEXAS AND LOUISIANA
Texas and Lousiana are both fault states. That means if you have a car accident in Longview, Shreveport, Tyler or any of the surrounding areas, insurance companies determine fault before providing coverage. Therefore, both states require all drivers to carry insurance with minimum coverages for bodily injury and property damage.
INSURANCE INVESTIGATION BASICS
Sometimes one driver knows they caused the wreck. They admit it, apologize and do everything they can to make things right. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Sometimes people won’t admit what they did. Other times it’s not clear who caused the accident. Each driver’s insurance company conducts an investigation, starting with these things:
- The statement you give the adjuster
- The other driver’s account of what happened
- Photos and sketches of the accident scene
- The placement of vehicles after the accident
- Who got a ticket
- Video of the accident from traffic cameras or passers-by
- Physical evidence like skid marks, vehicle damage or property damage at the scene
- Witness statements
- Weather and road conditions
- Police report information
If someone called the police, the police report carries a great deal of weight. It’s considered the official, unbiased version. If the parties involved disagree about what happened, adjusters are going to go with the police report’s version almost every time.
WHEN BOTH DRIVERS SHARE BLAME
Fault can be expressed as a percentage. If one driver is mostly at fault but the other contributed, insurance could split the blame. They might determine you were 25 percent at fault, while the other party is 75 percent at fault.
Louisiana is a pure comparative fault state, meaning a party can recover damages even if he or she is 99 percent at fault, but their recovery is reduced by their degree of fault. Texas recognizes the modified comparative fault rule. Parties cannot recover damages if they are 51 percent or more at fault.
When parties share fault, insurance companies split the bill by that percentage. If they can’t make a fault determination, they might decide to “share” the repair bill 50/50.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Our article Immediately After A Car Wreck – First Steps will walk you through what you should do at the scene. If you’re able, take photos and make notes that can help your insurer reconstruct the scene and determine fault. It’s also helpful to get contact information from witnesses.
Don’t admit fault, even if you think you might be partly to blame. If you talk to the police, stick to the facts. When you talk to the other driver, make sure they don’t need you to call for medical assistance and exchange the necessary information, then end the conversation. Don’t apologize, even if you think you might be at fault.
Realize that insurance companies aren’t on your side. Even your company doesn’t want to pay a cent more than they absolutely have to.
Avoid talking to the other party’s insurance company if at all possible. You’re not required to legally. They can gather what they need to know from the insured and from their own investigation. If you do speak with them, they’re listening for anything they can use against you. Even if the other party already admitted fault, it’s not a good idea to talk with their insurance company.
It is a good idea to talk to a lawyer if you were injured in a car accident or if it’s unclear who was at fault. Monsour Law Firm can help you deal with the insurance company, get medical treatment and pursue compensation for your injuries. Get in touch to schedule a free consultation today.