What to Do After a Car Accident That’s Not Your Fault

Published On: March 29, 2024
Categories: Car Accidents

Car accidents are traumatic, especially when someone else’s negligence caused the crash. In most cases, people involved in a car accident feel frightened and in pain after a high-impact crash and are unaware of what to do next. Although you are entitled to compensation to recover your losses, you need to take steps after a car accident that is not your fault. Reach out to a New Port Richey car accident lawyer

When you get into your car, you never anticipate an accident, but these crashes happen to everyone. Even cautious drivers cannot avoid a car accident entirely. If you get into a car accident in New Port Richey or anywhere in Florida due to someone else’s fault, follow the necessary steps to achieve the best possible outcome and avert a stressful battle with car insurers.

The First Steps to Take After A Car Accident Not Your FaultExperience Lawyer for Car Accident

After a New Port Richey car accident someone else caused, you should follow specific steps to protect your interests. Here is what to do immediately after a car accident that is not your fault.

1. Stay Calm and Remain at the Accident Scene

Immediately after an accident, you might be in shock from the other party striking your car. Remember to stay on the scene and get to a safe place. Leaving the scene may damage critical pieces of evidence that could assist the negotiation of a fair settlement.

Ensuring that everyone involved in a crash is okay before moving the vehicle away from traffic or assessing damage is essential. If someone is injured or complains about back, head, or neck pain, request medical care as soon as possible. If the people involved in the crash have not suffered any severe injuries, turn on your hazard lights and drive your vehicles to the furthest shoulder of the road.

2. Report the Accident to The Police

After a car accident that was not your fault, the next step is to report the matter to the police. Call 9-1-1 from your phone or let another motorist do it on your behalf. Explain everything to the dispatcher accurately, including the location of the accident and if anyone requires immediate medical attention. Such information enables the dispatcher to send an ambulance if anyone involved in the crash needs medical care.

Calling the police is a critical step since it ensures the collection of vital evidence to determine liability and provide information necessary for settlement negotiation. Your car accident lawyer can use a police report to substantiate your claim. This substantiation helps bolster maximum compensation.

Typically, a responding police officer will ask you multiple questions like your name, insurance, and contact information. However, this does not mean that you are responsible for the crash. It is a standard procedure used during police investigations.

3. Document as Much as You Can

Once you call the police, document as much information as possible while at the accident scene. Use your smartphone to take photos of your vehicle damage, injuries, and damaged personal property. Photographic evidence often provides detailed information that lets insurance adjusters determine your compensation value and assists you in your court case when necessary.

If you have not suffered catastrophic injuries, you may write down how the accident happened before forgetting critical details. For example, you can indicate that you stopped at a red light, and another driver struck you from behind. Describe where each vehicle was and how the entire event transpired. Take photos or document road conditions, traffic signs, and any other pertinent details, if possible. Such information can help prove your claim even when the other party is 100 percent responsible for the accident.

4. Gather Information from Witnesses

Although you and the other driver can describe events leading to the accident, witnesses play a critical role if the matter goes to court. Typically, judges and juries depend on onlookers’ testimony rather than first-hand proclamations in personal injury cases. Gathering witness testimony helps substantiate your claim, especially when the other party denies liability.

Write down witnesses’ names, contact information, and details leading to the accident. If several witnesses saw what happened, collect their information and provide it to your car insurer and the police. Gathering information from witnesses enables your car accident lawyer to build a strong case against the defendant.

5. Do Not Admit Fault of Accept Blame for the Accident

After a car accident, you may feel apologetic. However, don’t admit fault or accept blame for the crash. This can become evidence of liability. Admitting fault provides the other party’s insurance company leverage to deny your claim and argue that you noticed your wrongdoing and admitted your fault.

In some cases, the other driver may blame you for the accident. Never agree to such an assessment. Admitting any fault will likely compromise your claim and limit you from receiving financial recovery. Asserting no-fault protects you from blame by the at-fault driver.

Even in no-fault states like Florida, admitting fault or inadvertently accepting blame can have dire consequences on your ability to obtain compensation.

6. Seek Medical Attention Immediately

Car accidents may result in different injuries that require medical care to ascertain the extent of the damage. Medical evaluation is crucial since most car accident injuries may not show immediately but only appear after days, weeks, or even months. Furthermore, seeking medical attention documents injuries sustained from the accident, helping victims receive compensation for all losses incurred.

Many people may refuse medical evaluation because they think their symptoms are minor or are not visible. Car accident injuries often cause severe, long-term effects that may not show until several days.

Some of these injuries include:

  • Whiplash
  • Concussions
  • Numbness
  • Post-traumatic stress syndrome
  • Personality changes
  • Headaches
  • Loss of physical function
  • Abdominal swelling and pain

Since most car accident injuries do not show right away, you may suffer long-term complications. After the accident, consult a medical professional to determine if you sustained any injuries, such as soft tissue injuries. A personal injury lawyer will also use the doctor’s written record to establish your claim’s credibility. Other medical professionals to consider after a car accident include a physical therapist, caregivers, and chiropractors.

7. Share Your Insurance Information

Even if the other party is liable for the accident, you must submit your car insurance information and collect the other driver’s insurance information. This information includes the driver’s name, insurance carrier, tag number, and policy number or ID. It is important to exchange insurance information after a car accident.

Because of Florida’s no-fault rule, you will typically file a claim with your own insurer to cover your damages. There are times when you can seek compensation from the other driver’s insurance company or from the at-fault driver directly.

Collecting the other party’s insurance information helps you access critical details to begin your claim process when applicable. Waiting too long before pursuing financial recovery for damage caused by another driver creates challenges, especially after the statute of limitations. The at-fault driver’s car insurer has the right to defend against claims directed towards their client and if you miss the filing deadline, they do not pay compensation.

8. Hire a Car Accident Attorney

A severe car accident can leave you with significant losses like vehicle damage, lost wages, permanent physical and emotional difficulties, medical bills, and even wrongful death. If someone else causes a car accident injuring you or a loved one, you have a right to recover a settlement for your damages. These damages include compensation for emotional distress, pain and suffering, lost wages, and property damage.

An attorney can help you navigate the legal process of seeking compensation, especially when dealing with an insurance company offering an unreasonable amount or denying your claim. A car accident attorney enables you to understand your legal options and guides you on a course of action.

Other ways a car accident lawyer can help you include:

  • Determining if your claim can recover compensation
  • Representing you fully and protecting your rights in and out of court
  • Investigating your claim and gathering critical pieces of evidence to support your claim
  • Bringing in experts from different fields to ascertain that the other party was at fault
  • Ensuring you receive fair and maximum compensation
  • Taking your case to trial if necessary

Working with an experienced car accident attorney is essential, helping you navigate the complex legal process when seeking compensation. Legal representation ensures you receive comprehensive legal representation throughout the claims process.

What to Do if an Accident That Is Not Your Fault Totals Your Vehicle

If you are involved in a car accident in New Port Richey, and you lose your vehicle in an accident caused by another driver, the other driver must compensate you for the cost of your car. The actual price of your car is the value of your vehicle at its current state. Therefore, your projected compensation is an amount equal to the cost of your vehicle presently rather than a new vehicle.

Generally, insurance companies calculate the cost of a totaled car based on the replacement cost minus the depreciation cost. The replacement cost is the actual price of a new car, the same model as the totaled vehicle. Depreciation cost refers to the car’s depreciation value over the years. The at-fault driver also pays the sales tax on the replacement car.

Who Is Responsible for Paying Your Damages in a Car Accident Not Your Fault?​Who Pays Medical Bills in a Florida Car Accident?

Florida operates under a no-fault system. This means that, regardless of who caused the accident, each driver’s own insurance company–specifically their personal injury protection (PIP) coverage–is responsible for covering their medical expenses and lost wages, up to the policy limit.

Florida law requires all drivers to carry PIP coverage as part of their auto insurance policy. The minimum coverage limit is $10,000 for medical expenses and lost wages resulting from a car accident.

Additional coverage details include:

  • PIP typically covers 80% of medical expenses related to the accident, including hospital bills, doctor visits, diagnostic tests, and rehabilitation.
  • PIP also covers 60% of lost wages if the accident causes the insured to miss work.
  • The remaining 20% of medical expenses and 40% of lost wages not covered by PIP may need to be covered by other insurance or out-of-pocket.

It’s important to seek medical treatment promptly after an accident, as there are strict time limits for filing PIP claims. Generally, you must seek medical treatment within 14 days of the accident to be eligible for PIP benefits.

Getting Additional Compensation from the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company

In some cases, you can get additional compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurer or sue the other driver’s insurance company to get the full compensation you need.

Instances where you may bring a lawsuit against the at-fault driver or their insurer are:

  • Serious Injuries: If you sustain serious injuries as a result of the New Port Richey car accident, you may have grounds to sue the at-fault driver. Florida law defines serious injuries as those resulting in significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function, permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, significant scarring or disfigurement, or death.
  • Permanent Injury Threshold: Florida follows a “permanent injury threshold” rule, This means that you can only sue for pain and suffering damages if you meet the threshold of a permanent injury, significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement, or death.
  • Exceeding PIP Coverage: If your medical expenses and other damages exceed the limits of your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, you may have grounds to sue the at-fault driver for additional compensation.
  • Wrongful Death: If a loved one dies as a result of a car accident caused by another driver’s negligence, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault driver.

What If the Driver Who Caused the Accident Doesn’t Have Insurance?

If the driver who caused the accident doesn’t have insurance in Florida, or is underinsured, you still have options to seek compensation for your damages. If you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage as part of your own auto insurance policy, you can file a claim with your own insurance company. UM/UIM coverage can help cover your damages when the at-fault driver is uninsured or lacks sufficient insurance coverage.

Speak with an experienced New Port Richey car accident attorney for specific advice on how you can obtain the full and fair compensation you deserve.

What If a Defective Car Component Caused the Auto Accident?

If a defective car component caused the auto accident in New Port Richey, Florida, you may have grounds for both a third-party claim against the manufacturer or distributor of the defective component and a product liability claim. Here’s how these claims work:

Third-Party Claim

In addition to any claims against the at-fault driver, you can file a third-party claim against the manufacturer or distributor of the defective car component. This claim asserts that the defect in the component directly contributed to the accident and your resulting injuries.

Product Liability Claim

​What Are the Elements of a Product Liability Claim?

A product liability claim alleges that the defective car component is responsible for the accident and your injuries. Product liability claims typically involve proving that the component was defective in design, manufacturing, or marketing (failure to warn).

  • Defective Design: This type of defect occurs when the design of the car component is inherently unsafe, posing a risk of harm even when manufactured correctly.
  • Defective Manufacturing: Manufacturing defects arise during the production process, causing a particular component to deviate from its intended design, making it unsafe for use.
  • Failure to Warn: Manufacturers have a duty to provide adequate warnings or instructions regarding the proper use of their products. Failure to do so may result in liability if the lack of warning contributes to an accident or injury.

Product liability claims can be complex, involving detailed investigations, expert testimony, and legal experience. Hiring a personal injury attorney who handles third-party and product liability cases is crucial. They can help assess the viability of your claim, gather evidence, negotiate with the manufacturer or distributor, and represent your interests in court if necessary.

When Is the Right Time to Contact a Lawyer After a Car Accident Not Your Fault?

People involved in a car accident caused by someone else’s fault may try to handle claims independently. However, the legal process is complicated. Hiring a reputable car accident lawyer is essential to help you protect your rights and improve your odds of a favorable outcome. Even when the other party is entirely responsible for the accident, your case can be legally complicated.

Contact a car accident lawyer immediately after a car accident. A skilled lawyer can help if the fault is in dispute, the insurance company refuses your claim, or the pursuit of compensation seems complicated. They can also gather the necessary evidence to determine a liable party and build a strong personal injury claim for you.

Additionally, you only have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit, seeking damages. Florida’s statute of limitations is a strict legal deadline, although some exceptions may extend the time you have to file. Regardless, you need to contact a New Port Richey car accident lawyer as soon as you’re able to learn how the statute of limitations applies to your case and begin the claims process.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Right Away

Auto Accident Attorney Christopher Dyer
Christopher C. Dyer, Car Accident Attorney

A personal injury attorney consultation is crucial after a car accident that was not your fault. An experienced lawyer can help you in various ways when pursuing compensation for damages resulting from an accident. A skilled lawyer can negotiate and communicate with car insurance companies involved with your claim, helping you receive reasonable compensation.

You need to follow the above steps to help prove liability and obtain maximum compensation. A New Port Richey personal injury lawyer can help you pursue compensation after a car accident that is not your fault. Contact a car accident lawyer near you to learn more and get your free case evaluation.