How to Prove You Are Not at Fault in a Car Accident

How to Prove You Are Not at Fault in a Car Accident

Establishing who is responsible is an essential part of dealing with the aftermath of an accident. Drivers often mistakenly assume that the other party will admit to fault. You may think your hands are clean, but the other driver—or their insurance company—might not agree. 

If you’re not proactive about demonstrating you’re not at fault, you’re at risk of losing out on valuable compensation.

Let’s walk through how to prove you are not at fault in a car accident. We’ll explain how to get the evidence you need to demonstrate you’re not to blame for a collision. We’ll also offer some important tips for handling insurance claims.

What Does It Mean to Be “at Fault” in a Car Accident?

Generally, the driver who causes the accident is the one at fault. 

Identifying who’s at fault can seem easy when a driver purposely breaks traffic laws or engages in other dangerous behavior, like running a red light.

But in other situations, blame isn’t so clear-cut. Sometimes, multiple drivers can share the responsibility for a crash, whether they acted intentionally or unintentionally. For example, if you accidentally rear-end someone who was doing an illegal U-turn because you were distracted, both you and the other driver could hold a portion of the fault in the crash. 

In a state like South Carolina, this situation is called comparative negligence or comparative fault. According to state law, the amount of damages you can obtain from another at-fault driver will be reduced according to the percentage of fault you had in the crash. For example, if you suffered $10,000 in damages and you were 20% at fault, you could recover only $8,000. 

However, this is only possible if you’re no more than 50% at fault. For example, if it turns out that 60% of the responsibility for the crash lies with you, then you can’t recover any money.

How Do I Show That an Accident Isn’t My Fault?

Put simply, the most effective way to show that you’re not at fault for an accident is to prove that another driver is. To do this, you need evidence: physical proof that they caused the crash and associated damage. 

You can gather evidence of another driver’s fault in a variety of ways:

  • Photographs. Take pictures of damaged vehicles, road conditions, skid marks, debris, traffic signs, and any potential obstacles to vision. Pictures can shed light on the events behind an accident.
  • Witness testimony. Get contact information from anyone who saw the accident and follow up with them. Eyewitness accounts can provide useful details and help assign liability.
  • Police report. If the police attribute the cause of the crash to the other driver in the accident report, that can be a big help for your case.
  • Video recordings. Try to get a copy of any dashboard or surveillance camera footage of the accident.
  • Cell phone records. Phone records can help prove another driver was distracted at the time of the accident. 
  • Doctor’s report. The nature of your injuries can also provide insights into the cause of a crash.
  • Insurance assessment. If your insurance company’s investigation doesn’t find you at fault, that can strengthen your case against another driver.

Generally, the best place to gather evidence is at the scene of the accident, ideally not long after it happened. Once you make sure anyone who’s injured has gotten help, try to capture as much information as you can from the scene. Waiting too long can mean losing out on potentially valuable details. 

I Filed an Insurance Claim in a Car Accident That’s Not My Fault. What To Do Next?

There are some important things you can do to protect your claim while you’re waiting for the insurance company’s investigation.

Don’t Admit Fault

A representative from the insurance company will likely reach out and ask you to tell them your version of events from the accident. The statement they request could be written or verbal. You are not obligated to give a statement to the insurance company. Instead, refer them to your attorney, and let them handle communications with the insurer. 

If you do speak to an insurance representative, don’t say anything to suggest you had any responsibility in the crash. It’s best to stick to a factual description of the events, the vehicles, and the people involved. 

Avoid Posting on Social Media

Insurance adjusters often look into the social media accounts of individuals who file claims. Even if your accounts are private, don’t share any photos, videos, or other details of the accident online. Anything that insurers find there can be potential evidence that discredits your claim.

See a Doctor 

Even if you’re only mildly hurt, it’s a good idea to get a full medical exam after an accident. For one, people who are seriously injured are often not aware of it immediately. Have a medical professional evaluate your injuries and follow their treatment recommendations closely. Keep track of any medical bills and costs that could be eligible for compensation.  

Do I Need an Attorney to Prove It’s Not My Fault in a Car Accident Claim? 

You don’t always need a lawyer to show you’re not to blame for a crash. But in many cases, having the support of a legal professional can make dealing with the aftermath of a car accident much smoother.

For one, an attorney can help you get a jump on collecting the evidence you need to disprove fault. In the chaos after a crash, it can be tough for individuals to stay on top of what they’ll need for their case. A car accident lawyer can conduct interviews with witnesses and gather physical evidence while you take time to recover from the accident.

If an insurer does claim you are at fault, an attorney’s support is essential. A personal injury lawyer in South Carolina can challenge the insurance company’s evaluation and conduct an independent investigation.

In situations when the fault is shared, having an attorney on your side is also critical. A seasoned lawyer can help ensure that an insurer accurately evaluates your percentage of responsibility. This can mean a difference of thousands of dollars in compensation.

A Lawyer Can Help You Protect Your Claim

Car accidents are confusing, stressful situations. An insurance company may not always get the full picture in their investigation, and they have an incentive to put as much blame on you as possible. To make sure you’re protected, it’s best to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after a crash. A qualified legal professional is the best resource for case-specific questions about how to prove you are not at fault in a car accident.

John Peace of the Peace Law Firm has spent over 20 years helping victims recover from the emotional and financial turmoil of a car accident. As a former insurance professional, he has a deep understanding of the challenges and complexities of the accident claims process. The Peace Law Firm has built a reputation on our diligent, client-centered representation. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help with your accident claim.

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