Determining Fault in a Car Accident — Why It Matters
Holtsville, New York, Car Accident Attorneys
In car accident cases, the state of New York follows the principle of comparative negligence or comparative fault. According to the principle of comparative negligence, an injured driver can recover compensation for damages even if he or she is mostly at fault in a car accident. However, the amount of compensation an injured driver is eligible to receive will be reduced by the percentage of his or her fault. For example, if you suffer $100,000 in damages but are deemed 70 percent at fault, the most you could recover is $30,000; alternatively, if you are found 40 percent at fault, the most you could recover is $60,000. As a result, insurance companies have a vested interest in shifting as much blame for an accident as they can onto you, the injured driver.
Investigating Car Accidents to Determine Fault
After a car accident, most insurance companies will use internal accident investigators to determine what happened — especially in serious accidents where fatalities or catastrophic head trauma and spinal cord injuries have occurred. Additionally, a claims adjuster will likely call an injured person, often under the guise of trying to find out more about an accident. In many cases, the adjuster will try to gain the confidence of the injured person only to begin asking questions about what happened or the person’s injuries. You may be asked if you were wearing your seat belt, how fast you were going, if the sun was in your eyes, what you remember about the accident, etc.
The purpose of these questions is to collect information that can be used later to shift more or the entire fault for the accident onto you, the injured driver. Since insurance companies must first ask if they can record a call, they may tell you the conversation is being recorded for any number of reasons — training, quality assurance purposes or to make a record for internal reasons. If you consent to having the phone conversation recorded, your answers can be used later in court if your case goes to trial. Again, in many cases, insurers are simply looking for anything that might justify shifting more fault onto you, the injured driver.
How to Protect Yourself after a Car Accident
You can be reasonably sure that after a car accident, the other driver’s insurer will begin the process of investigating what happened and trying to keep from paying out any more than they absolutely have to. If you hire a personal injury attorney to represent you, insurers must go through your lawyer and leave you alone. Not only does this help protect you from claims adjusters looking for anything they can use against you later, it also means you’ll have someone fighting for your rights and interests.
Depending on the nature of the car accident, your attorney may begin his or her own investigation into what happened, collecting eyewitness testimony and other evidence important to your case. As a result, your attorney can take steps to make it more difficult for insurers to place a majority of the blame onto you.
Contact Holtsville, New York, Car Accident Attorneys Rosenberg & Gluck
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, don’t wait until the insurance company has offered you an inadequate settlement — contact personal injury attorneys or call 1-888-5454-2993 today. We can evaluate your case during a free consultation and help protect your rights and interests.