If you’re involved in a car accident, it can be extremely stressful. There are insurance issues to deal with and even potential injuries.
These are worries that can occur even if someone else causes the accident, but what happens if you’re atfault and you caused the accident?
Eventually, you may be in a car accident that’s your fault, whether you’re completely at-fault or only partially.
You may feel worried about the financial and legal repercussions, as well as the possible emotional effects, particularly if someone was hurt.
You don’t always know right away if you’re at-fault for an accident, and it may be up to law enforcement to determine that. In other cases, you may realize the accident was your fault, but you shouldn’t say that at the scene.
The following are things to know and what to do if you cause a car accident.
What To Do If You Think or Know You Just Caused An Accident
If you think or know that you’ve just caused a car accident, it can be gut-wrenching, even if no one is hurt.
However, it’s important to stay calm and rational.
You should not ever, under any circumstances, leave the scene of an accident you may have caused. If you leave the scene of an accident, you might face serious legal consequences and criminal charges.
If someone seems to be hurt, you may need to provide help to them as much as is safely possible.
You should also call 911.
As you wait for the police, remain quiet. You can be polite to other people involved in the accident, but don’t discuss anything and don’t engage if the other driver is angry or blaming you. Don’t apologize and don’t accept blame.
If you apologize, then that is you accepting blame, and even if you are to blame, that’s a bad position to put yourself in.
Don’t talk about who you think was to blame, don’t talk about what you were doing in the comments leading up to the crash, and don’t ask the other driver any questions.
What to Do When the Police Arrive
If the police come to the scene, you should similarly keep the information you provide to the bare minimum, without being rude.
Provide as few details to any questions you’re asked as possible.
You also should collect your own evidence at the scene of the accident, including contact information for people involved, witness contact information, and you should take photos of the vehicles and the scene with your phone.
Don’t be the first to leave the scene of the accident after talking with the police, either.
Wait until the other driver leaves first.
Don’t negotiate at the scene either. Your insurance company will handle those types of things.
Fault and No-Fault States
What happens after you leave the accident scene and you were at fault can depend quite a bit on where you live.
In most states, car insurance is what’s called fault-based. That means that if you’re in an accident that’s deemed to be your fault, your insurance will pay for the repairs, medical costs, and other losses the other driver experiences through your liability coverage.
In a no-fault state, drivers are typically required to have what’s called personal injury protection or PIP.
That means that if there’s an accident, your insurance will pay for your medical expenses up to a certain limit without consideration to who’s at fault. If there’s property damage it’s still fault-based so the cost of the other driver’s repairs might be covered by the insurance of the other driver.
Insurance companies usually determine the fault of an accident based on negligence, and the legal definition of negligence can vary depending on the state.
For example, some states use what’s called comparative negligence.
Comparative negligence means you may receive compensation even if you were partially at-fault.
There’s another type of negligence called modified comparative negligence.
This puts a limit on a driver being able to file a claim through another driver’s insurance.
Then, there is contributory negligence, which is all-or-nothing.
Even if you were determined to be just 20% at-fault for an accident, you wouldn’t receive compensation for injuries or repairs.
If you are in an accident that’s your fault, one of the best things to do as soon as possible is contact a lawyer because it can turn into a complex situation quickly.