What Happens if you are at Fault in a Car Accident?
Car accidents are scary, but when you are at fault, it gets even scarier. How do you know what to do? How much liability will you have? These are just a few of the questions that cross the minds of those affected.
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Insurance companies make it easier on you than you think, even if you are at fault. Use the steps below if you find yourself at fault for a car accident.
Make Sure Everyone is Okay
Your first order of business is to check on the wellbeing of everyone involved. Cars can be fixed, but people need immediate care. If someone needs immediate assistance, dial 911 before doing anything else. You need the emergency personnel there to handle the situation while you collect yourself.
Watch What You Say
While it can be easy to admit fault right away, don’t do it. This includes offering an apology or flat out saying ‘it was my fault.’ Let the police and insurance companies figure out who caused the accident once you clean things up and are able to gather yourself. For now, focus on the wellbeing of yourself and the others involved.
Call the Police
Even if no one was injured, you still want the police involved as the insurance company will need a police report. If you can avoid moving the cars from their spot, leave them. This gives the police officer a better chance of being able to recreate the accident and provide you with an accurate police report.
You can exchange information with the other people involved either while you wait for the police or once the police arrive. You’ll need to exchange the following information:
- Phone numbers
- Insurance information
- License plate information
- Date and location of the accident
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You want as many pictures as possible, which you can do while you wait for the police to arrive. Again, if you are able to leave the cars where they had the accident, you will have better proof of what happened. Make sure the pictures are time/date stamped for proper proof.
Talk With Your Agent About Your Premiums
The scary thing about being at fault in a car accident is the amount the premiums may increase. If the insurance company finds that you are at least 50 percent at fault, then your premiums will likely increase. Just how much it will increase depends on the insurance company and the damage the car accident caused. A fender bender, for example, may only increase your premiums slightly, but an accident where one or both cars are totaled would increase your premiums much more.
Residents of No-Fault States
Just about 12 states in the United States are ‘no fault states.’ In these states, all drivers must use their own car insurance first, no matter who is at fault for the accident. If the damages from the accident cost more than the insurance policy’s threshold, though, you may still be liable for the damages, but not nearly as much as you would in a state without no-fault requirements.
Car accidents are overwhelming and scary, especially when you think of your premiums rising, but don’t let it overwhelm you. That’s what you have insurance for – to help you in a time of need. As long as you choose insurance that you can afford, including a deductible that you can easily pay for, let insurance do its job while you focus on recovering from the accident.
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