Is It a Mistake to Admit Fault After a Car Accident?
The statements you make after a car accident could hurt your chance of receiving fair compensation for your injuries and damages. The insurance company for the at-fault driver undervalues your insurance claim to save money. Whenever possible, insurance companies find ways to deny personal injury claims.
Admitting fault after a car accident is a mistake. Just saying you are sorry the accident happened could be used by an insurance adjuster as an admission of fault. Talk to experienced car accident attorneys before admitting fault after a car crash.
The Car Accident Might Not Be Your Fault
Accident victims are dazed and confused after a car wreck. You may be highly emotional or in shock. You could also be physically injured.
Your memory could be impaired because of your emotional and mental state. Therefore, you may not realize exactly what happened in the seconds leading up to the car accident.
Many factors may contribute to the cause of a car accident. You could be partially at fault, but so could the other driver or another party. Until a comprehensive accident investigation is complete, you cannot be sure of the exact cause of the car crash.
Everything you say to the police officers at the accident scene is included in police reports. Do not guess at the answers to questions or accept fault for causing the car accident. Admitting fault after a car accident before consulting a personal injury attorney could prevent you from recovering the compensation you deserve.
Evidence Used to Prove Fault for a Gainesville Car Accident
The statements from both drivers and the traffic crash report are only two types of evidence your attorney uses to determine fault for the cause of a car accident. A thorough car accident investigation includes searching for other evidence to establish causation.
Examples of evidence a lawyer may gather to prove fault for a car accident include:
- Statements from eyewitnesses
- Photographs of the property damage to each vehicle
- Video of the collision from traffic cameras, nearby surveillance cameras, dash cams, etc.
- Physical evidence from the accident scene
- Weather reports for the time of the crash
- Road conditions at the accident scene
- Opinions from expert witnesses, including engineers, accident reconstructionists, vehicle manufacturers, etc.
- Information from cell phone records and vehicle data recorders
Your attorney uses the evidence gathered during the investigation to identify the factors that contributed to the cause of the accident and who is responsible for each of those factors. If you contributed to the cause of the car accident, you could still recover money for damages under Florida’s contributory fault law.
Florida’s Contributory Fault Law for a Car Accident Claim
Florida is a no-fault insurance state. Therefore, drivers are required to purchase no-fault insurance coverage. Generally, drivers are limited to filing a claim with their insurance company after a car accident.
However, if you sustain serious injuries, you can file a claim against the at-fault driver or file a personal injury lawsuit. You have the burden of proving the other driver caused the car accident before you can recover compensation for damages.
Each state has some form of contributory fault law. A handful of states bar accident victims from recovering any money for damages if they contribute to the cause of their injury. Other states limit the percentage of fault a person may have to recover compensation for damages.
Florida uses a modified comparative negligence standard for car accident cases with a 51% recovery bar. Therefore, being at fault for a car accident does not bar you from recovering compensation for damages unless you are mostly to blame for the cause of the car crash.
Instead, if you are partially to blame for the cause of the car accident, your compensation can be reduced according to Florida’s contributory fault law. The court divides damages based on each party’s percentage of fault.
For example, suppose a jury finds that your economic and non-economic damages are worth $400,000. However, the jurors also found that you contributed to the cause of the crash by 35 percent. The total you receive for your damages would be $260,000 ($400,000 less 35%). If, instead, you were found to be 51% or more responsible, you would be barred from recovering damages.
Sharing responsibility for the cause of a car accident can significantly reduce how much money you receive for your injury claim. Unfortunately, car insurance companies understand the law and try to use it to save money by undervaluing claims.
Therefore, do not admit fault after a car accident. Instead, call a Gainesville car accident lawyer for a free consultation.
Steps to Take After a Car Accident to Avoid Allegations of Fault
Even though you do not cause a car accident, the insurance company for the other driver may try to shift some of the blame to you. Blaming the accident victim is a common insurance tactic. However, there are ways you can protect yourself after a car accident.
Steps you can take to protect yourself after a car accident include:
- Call 911 to report the accident and wait for the police officers to arrive
- Seek immediate medical attention for injuries
- Do not discuss the car accident with anyone at the accident scene except the police officers
- Never accept fault for the car crash, including saying you are sorry
- Tell the officers the facts without embellishing or admitting fault
- Take photographs of the accident scene and use your cell phone to make a video
- Ask eyewitnesses and bystanders for their names and telephone numbers
- Do not post anything online about the accident, including on social media
- Be careful not to admit fault when you talk to doctors and other medical providers
Talk with a car accident attorney about your case as soon as possible. An attorney advises you of your legal options and the steps you should take next. Your lawyer also protects you from insurance adjusters searching for a way to prevent you from receiving a fair settlement for your car accident claim.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Gainesville Car Accident Lawyers
We can help you avoid mistakes that could reduce your compensation after a car accident. Contact our law office or call (877) 255-3652 today to schedule your free case evaluation with an experienced Gainesville personal injury lawyer. We want to help you get the money you deserve.