Partly at Fault Accident - What to do?
An accident between vehicles can cause damage and even injuries to the persons involved. Insurance can be helpful in covering costs along with the liability for the accident.
Vehicle insurance is issued to cover the risks of damages from an accident, so it is natural that one would expect insurance to take care of the aftermath. A question that arises here is – what if you were at fault?
Whether it is fully or partly, what if you were responsible for the accident? What would happen to your insurance claim? These are interesting questions that need to be analyzed under the laws related to negligence.
General Procedure Followed
In general, the insurance company pays up for damages based on how much of the fault resulted because of the insured person. This, however, depends on the policy that has been taken out. The provisions of the system would determine.
If you are at fault and the accident happened because of negligence on your part, then the insurance company that issued you a policy will pay the entire expense on your behalf. That's how insurance works. If it is the other driver's fault, then his/her insurer will pay up.
The confusion arises when both the drivers are to blame. This is when you are partially at fault. In such a situation, the contributing fault ratio is decided. For example, if you're 60% responsible for the accident, your policy will be used to pay 60% of all the damages.
The policy of the other driver will be used to bear the remaining 40% of the damages. The tricky question here is how do you decide who much at fault each of the drivers are?
In most cases, the drivers mutually agree amicably about how much each one of them is responsible. If this doesn't happen, the respective insurance company adjusters would carry out a detailed analysis and work out the formula to divide payout from the policies.
If the adjusters are not able to work out, then the matter may end up in court for adjudication. This situation can happen. In most cases, insurance adjusters, who are professionals, will be able to make the decision themselves.
They would primarily refer to the police report on the accident to take a decision. The police report, based on investigation and account of witnesses, would explain how the accident occurred. This will help the adjusters to decide how much you are at fault.
If you or the other driver has photos of the accident or had a camera on, it becomes easy. To decide on whose fault the accident is, the insurance company would need to keep in mind the negligence laws of the state where the accident occurred.
Some states use a contributory negligence theory. As per this principle of law, whoever is at fault for the accident is not entitled to recovery. This is true even if you are partially at fault, but is not followed by most states.
The principle of comparative negligence allows a person to recover for damages in proportion to his/her fault. If you are 55% at fault, you can get 45% as recovery.
Some states have another rule known as proportional comparative fault. As per this, you can recover the money only if the other driver was 51% at fault.
The state law thus affects the recovery. Some policies are personal injury protection policies, where irrespective of whose fault it is, your insurer will reimburse your expenses. This is the best policy to have and will protect you even if you are at fault.