What to Do After a Car Accident If Not Your Fault?

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Over 2.1 million people required emergency medical attention in 2021 due to car accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you suffered a car accident that wasn’t your fault, know that you have the right to pursue a car accident claim and seek compensation for your damages.

Following a car accident, call the police, seek medical attention, file a police report, and gather evidence by taking photos and witness statements at the scene of the accident. Also, notify your insurance company to recover your damages through a car insurance claim.

What To Do After a Car Accident That Was Not Your Fault?

You must report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible so that your insurance adjuster can seek damages from the at-fault driver’s insurer. Generally, you need to take the following steps immediately after a car crash to ensure your safety and protect your legal rights:

1. Prioritize Safety and Seek Medical Treatment

If you’re involved in a car accident, your safety and health should be your first priority. Hence, make sure to seek immediate medical attention, even for minor injuries. Moreover, it is essential to have a medical professional examine you. Some injuries, like whiplash or internal trauma, might not be immediately apparent. Also, getting medical treatment at the scene of the accident will help you establish medical records that can support your claim if you pursue legal action in the future.

Secondly, if possible, move to a safe area away from traffic to prevent further harm at the scene of the accident. While waiting for help, try to stay calm and avoid unnecessary movements, especially if you suspect any injuries.

2. Call the Police and Obtain a Police Report

In the event of a car crash, it is crucial to promptly contact emergency services. A police officer will arrive on the scene to conduct a thorough assessment of the situation. They will inspect all vehicles involved and gather evidence to determine any traffic infringements that may have contributed to the accident.

Make sure to acquire a copy of this report for your records. You can request one through your insurance adjuster, who will facilitate the process. This is because a police report is not only crucial for insurance claims but also serves as a key piece of evidence in any legal proceedings that may follow, especially in case of a fatality.

3. Take Photos of the Car Accident Scene

It is essential to take photos of the scene of auto accidents as road crews may arrive soon after the crash, and valuable evidence could be lost. You can use your smartphone to record or take images during the accident to preserve this evidence. Mostly, the insurance company requires pictures as proof because they are more reliable than the police investigation and accident report. Your car accident lawyer may need to use these pictures to prove your responsibility, especially if the accident was not your fault.

4. Collect the Other Driver’s Information at the Car Accident Scene

If you are involved in a car crash, always exchange contact and insurance information with all parties. You should ask for the names, license numbers, license plate numbers, email addresses, and insurance information of everyone involved. It is essential to double-check that all the license plates match the cars involved in the accident to avoid any confusion or mistakes later on.

Moreover, it is advised to stay in touch with all parties involved in the accident. This will help to ensure that you have all the necessary information and avoid any potential complications that may arise later on. By doing so, you can have peace of mind knowing that you have taken the necessary steps to handle the situation.

5. Understand the State Laws and Insurance Policies

If you ever find yourself dealing with a car accident, it is crucial to have a good understanding of your state’s regulations and insurance coverage to ensure you receive appropriate compensation. Also, the compensation provided by the other driver’s insurance company may vary depending on the state’s laws.

Some states are referred to as “no-fault” states. In these states, individuals can initiate a car insurance claim with their own insurer, regardless of who caused the accident. For minor injuries and vehicle repairs, personal injury protection (PIP) can cover those involved. However, it is still worth noting that the drivers responsible for the crash are accountable for any property damage.

6. Inform Your Auto Insurance Company

Always inform your auto insurance and car insurance company after being involved in a car accident. Often, it can be challenging to determine what exactly happened and recount the events that led to the accident. Even if you are confident that you are not responsible, it’s possible that you might have contributed to the accident in some way, and the other driver’s insurance may not cover the damages incurred. If you were not at fault, the other party should be responsible for covering the damages. However, it’s rarely that simple.

Insurance companies are businesses that aim to minimize costs and improve profitability. As a result, you may encounter resistance from the at-fault driver’s insurer. They could offer you a low settlement amount, try to blame you for the accident, or deny your claim altogether. You may need to file a lawsuit to receive compensation in such situations.

7. Retain All Receipts, Bills, and Payroll Information

Always collect all receipts of medical expenses and payroll information if you want to seek compensation for your injuries caused by a car accident. To ensure a smooth claims process, you need to demonstrate your losses. This includes providing documents like:

  • Medical bills for ambulance services
  • Emergency care for car accident injuries
  • Hospitalization
  • Surgeries
  • Medications
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8. Document Your Injuries and Obtain A Medical Report

Keep a daily journal of your injuries to ensure an accurate recovery journey. This will help you track your progress and also assist your doctors in speeding up your treatment. If you’ve been in a severe car accident, take photos of the scene and document your recovery process. This will leverage your attorney to negotiate a better settlement amount or ask for more damages in a lawsuit. Remember, when an accident is not your fault, you shouldn’t pay out of pocket for lost wages, medical expenses, or pain and suffering.

9. Record the Event in Writing at Home

When you’re fortunate not to have sustained severe injuries, it’s common for the details of your car accident to fade shortly. To ensure you remember the event clearly, take a moment to write down how the car accident occurred. This written account will serve as a helpful reference, aiding you in retaining the essential information about the accident.

10. Contact a Car Accident Attorney Before Contacting the Insurance Company

Always avoid speaking with insurers, especially those representing the other driver, before consulting with a lawyer. Insurance companies are primarily concerned with protecting their own interests, and they may try to offer you an initial settlement that is less than what you deserve.

If you do decide to file a claim, be aware that an adjuster from the at-fault driver’s insurance company will investigate your claim to avoid paying out a large sum of money. In addition, the at-fault party may hire an investigator who will try to use anything you say against you to either deny or devalue your claim.

To ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve, it’s important to work with a skilled car accident lawyer who can help you file a claim, handle all the necessary paperwork, and guide you through the process. A good lawyer will also ensure that you avoid any mistakes that could harm your claim.

11. Make a Claim Against the Other Driver’s Insurance Company

The injured car accident victim can pursue a claim against the responsible driver in ‘fault states.’ This is particularly applicable when the accident leads to severe injuries. The at-fault driver’s insurance company may offer a cash payment to settle your personal injury claim. However, these settlements may not always be adequate. In such situations, filing a car accident lawsuit against the other driver becomes necessary.

Additionally, be careful about what you say and do after the accident because the other driver’s insurance company will start investigating as soon as the accident is reported. They may try to contact you or even come to the accident scene.

So, make sure not to admit blame or give any statements (written or recorded) to the insurance company. They may use anything you say against you later. Hence, it’s best to have a car accident lawyer who can direct all communication to them.

Accidents with 99% Liability of Other Driver 

When determining fault in car accidents, it’s essential to consider the specifics of each situation. For example, left-turn accidents are typically the fault of the driver making the left turn. The only exceptions to this rule are rare scenarios like excessive speed or running a red light by the other driver.

Similarly, in rear-end collisions, the trailing driver is almost always at fault unless there are rare circumstances like malfunctioning brake lights.

In both cases, the location and nature of vehicle damage can help determine fault and establish a precise sequence of events. Overall, these types of accidents have a 99% likelihood of one driver being at fault.

What if You Have a Car Accident in a No-Fault State?

If you get into an accident in a no-fault state such as New York, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage can assist you in paying for your medical bills and lost income, regardless of who was at fault. PIP coverage is a comprehensive option, as it may also pay for other expenses like childcare and household services.

However, it is essential to note that PIP coverage can differ by state. While it is mandatory in some states, like New York, it is optional in others. Additionally, there may be limits on the amount of PIP coverage available, usually capped at around $50,000.

If your car is damaged in a no-fault state, the at-fault driver is still responsible for paying for vehicle repairs, but the method of calculating damages may differ. In some cases, you may need to file a claim under your own insurance policy instead of the at-fault driver’s insurance company. In this case, your own insurance company will cover the damages until you reach your policy limits.

What if Your Car Was Totaled in the Accident?

If your car was destroyed, the at-fault driver is responsible for the damage to your vehicle. This means that their insurance company will cover the cost of the repairs or replacement as long as they have adequate liability coverage limits.

However, the at-fault driver might be uninsured, or their insurance might not cover the total cost of the repairs or replacement. If you’re in this situation, you may need to rely on your own collision coverage to get the money for your car repairs. Your insurance company will pay you what your car is worth. Then, they’ll go after the person who caused the accident (or their insurance company) to get their money back.

On the other hand, if your car is declared a total loss, you cannot keep it. You must get it repaired or replaced. The insurance company will determine your car’s actual cash value (the amount it would have sold for before the accident), deduct any salvage value (the amount the car is worth in its damaged condition), and give you the total loss settlement.

Why Is Proving Fault Important After a Car Accident?

Determining fault allows you to assign liability for the losses suffered in the crash. Understanding the at-fault party is crucial for several reasons, such as:

Insurance Claim: You can pursue compensation from the insurance company of the at-fault driver. It’s essential to determine who is responsible, as this ensures that the correct insurance company handles the financial obligations. This approach prevents individuals from covering costs they are not accountable for.

Personal Injury lawsuit: In accidents involving injuries, proving fault is essential for pursuing personal injury claims. If you’re injured, you may seek compensation for expenses such as vehicle damage, medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress, and other related damages. Therefore, proving fault is vital for establishing the driver’s negligence and determining liability.

Legal Protection: In a car accident, identifying the at-fault driver protects you from being wrongly blamed. If you’re deemed responsible for the accident, you could face higher insurance rates and legal penalties, which may also affect your driver’s record.

Negotiations and Settlements: Proving fault is crucial when negotiating with the other driver’s insurer or filing a car accident claim. It provides a solid foundation for claiming the compensation you deserve. Moreover, it strengthens your case and increases the likelihood of receiving a fair settlement.

Legal Recourse: If the at-fault driver’s insurer disputes liability or refuses to settle, proving fault is essential to recover compensation through court. A successful car accident case requires clear evidence demonstrating the other driver’s fault.

Reach Out to Uptown Injury – New York Car Accident Lawyers

If you’ve been involved in a car accident in New York, you need a team of dedicated, experienced lawyers who understand your situation and are committed to fighting for your rights. At Uptown Injury Law Firm, PLLC, our New York Car accident lawyers specialize in helping victims like you navigate car accident insurance claims. We have a proven track record of recovering $100 million for our clients in personal injury cases.

You shouldn’t have to worry about the financial burdens of an accident that wasn’t your fault. Our skilled personal injury lawyers work tirelessly to ensure you receive the full compensation you deserve for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.

What sets us apart? We operate on a contingency fee basis. This means you don’t pay us anything out of pocket. We only get paid if we win your case. Let our experienced lawyers at Uptown Injury take the burden off your shoulders.

Contact us or call us today at 917-540-8728 for a free consultation.


How Does the Insurance Work After a Car Accident Not Your Fault?

When you’re involved in a car accident where you’re not at fault, your insurance company may suggest filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer. This process ensures that the responsible party covers the costs for vehicle damage and any other losses you’ve suffered. It’s a way to make sure you don’t bear the financial burden of an accident caused by another driver’s negligence.

How to File an Auto Insurance Claim?

To file an auto insurance claim, report the accident promptly to your insurance company. Be sure to gather evidence, such as photos of the damaged vehicles, witness information, and police reports. When providing details about how the accident happened and how you sustained injuries, it’s important to be clear and accurate. By doing so, you can help ensure that your claim is processed as smoothly and fairly as possible.

How Long Do You Have to File an Insurance Claim After a Car Accident?

In New York, the statute of limitations for filing an insurance claim after a car accident is generally 3 years. This period starts from the date of the accident. It’s important to file within this timeframe to preserve your right to seek compensation for damages or injuries. Failing to meet this deadline can lead to the loss of your legal right to claim. Prompt action is recommended to ensure your claim is considered valid under New York law.

What Happens if the Responsible Driver is Underinsured or Uninsured?

If the at-fault driver is underinsured or uninsured, you can turn to your own insurance policy’s uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This coverage is designed to compensate you for damages and injuries in such situations. Therefore, make sure to notify your insurer about the accident and the other driver’s insurance status. They will guide you through the claim process under your policy’s specific provisions for these circumstances.

Will Your Insurance Rates Increase if the Accident Was Not Your Fault?

No, your insurance rates generally do not increase if you are not at fault in a car accident. Insurance companies usually reserve rate hikes for instances where the policyholder is deemed responsible for the accident. However, this can depend on the insurer’s policies and the specific circumstances of the accident.

Is Accepting the First Settlement Offer From the Insurance Company Advisable?

It is not advisable to accept the first settlement offer from the insurance company after a car accident because the initial offer is usually lower than the actual value of your claim. Consulting with a car accident lawyer can help you understand the true value of your claim and ensure that you receive a fair settlement.

What Should You Do if the Insurance Company Denies Your Claim?

If your insurance claim is denied, start by carefully examining the insurance company’s explanation for the denial. Understanding their reasoning is key. If you disagree with their decision, you have the right to appeal. During this process, make sure to gather any additional evidence or information that supports your claim.
Furthermore, consider consulting a car accident attorney. They will help clarify your legal rights, assist in exploring alternative avenues for compensation, and ensure your case is handled effectively.


Kyle Newman Founder and Senior Trial Lawyer at Uptown Injury Law New York's Best Personal Injury Medical Malpractice and Accident Law firm New York's Top Trial Lawyers
Kyle Newman Founder and Senior Trial Lawyer at Uptown Injury Law New York's Best Personal Injury Medical Malpractice and Accident Law firm New York's Top Trial Lawyers

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