When you’re in a car accident, who is at fault is one of the first questions the police try to answer. It’s also one of the first questions we ask ourselves: what if I’m at fault in a car accident?
Fault isn’t always immediately evident. When cars collide while merging, for example, or for a collision that happens in a parking lot, fault is difficult to determine.
At Gordon & Gordon Law Firm, we know that the time following a car accident is fraught with worry, especially if you believe you were at fault. But what exactly does being at fault mean?
Well, that depends entirely on your insurance and the circumstances of your accident.
In this post, our Shreveport-Bossier car accident attorneys will give you an in-depth guide on determining fault, what it means for you, and answer the question: what happens if I’m at fault in a car accident?
How Do You Determine Fault in a Car Accident?
Louisiana is what is known as a “tort state”. This means that one driver or the other will be at fault in an accident, and their insurance will be responsible for the other driver’s damages.
Insurance adjusters determine who was at fault in the accident. These insurance companies will gather information about the wreck and the events surrounding it, look at witness statements, and, based on their findings, decide which insurance company will have to pay up.
Sometimes it’s cut-and-dry: for instance, in Louisiana, if you rear-end someone you are automatically at fault. Insurance companies can use police-issued citations as evidence of fault as well.
Other times, your insurance may determine you are “partially at fault” and agree to some percentage of the damages. For instance, if you are merging onto the interstate while another driver is exiting and you collide, you may both be at fault. Your insurance company can agree to 70% of the damages while the other driver’s insurance covers the remaining 30%. This is often what happens in multi-car accidents where fault is impossible to determine.
Determining fault is unique for every car accident. If you are at fault, the amount of money your insurance pays depends on the policy you have.
Liability in Car Accidents
So you were at fault in a car accident. Maybe you were distracted by your phone, maybe you were just unlucky. Either way, since Louisiana is a tort state, you and your insurance company are now liable for any damages.
What Happens If I’m At Fault In A Car Accident: Vehicle Damages
When you’re at fault for a car accident, the other driver may submit a claim to their insurance company for damages to their car. Though their insurance company will cover these damages, they will then look to your insurance company for reimbursement.
The most likely outcome is, again, that your insurance premiums will go up when your policy renews.
What Happens If I’m At Fault In A Car Accident: Crash Injuries
If you are at fault in a car accident in which someone was injured, you and your insurance may be liable to pay them even more damages. You can be responsible for their medical bills or lost wages during recovery, for instance.
However, for a routine insurance claim, they cannot ask for more than your policy covers, or your insurance adjuster will simply not reply. It doesn’t matter how much their claim is theoretically worth. Even if their damages total more than $200,000 if your liability insurance only covers $100,000, they can only get $100,000 out of your insurance.
In order to get more money out of you, the other driver will have to bring a personal injury lawsuit.
What Happens If I’m At Fault In A Car Accident: Personal Injury Lawsuit
When people wonder “what happens if I’m at fault in a car accident?” this is the worst-case scenario. This is the case even in no-fault states, where the law allows those who have been injured in a crash to bring personal injury lawsuits against at-fault drivers. If you are involved in a collision in which someone was injured, you become vulnerable to a personal injury lawsuit, no matter your location or the circumstances. At that point, you need legal counsel.
Car insurance companies will happily sell you as much liability insurance as you can stomach to protect you from this type of claim. However, unless you can afford an astronomical amount of liability coverage, your policy will not cover a catastrophic injury claim.
For example, if you have $150,000 of liability insurance and you are sued for $500,000 in a personal injury lawsuit, you are personally liable for that $350,000 if you lose.
In order to win a personal injury lawsuit, the injured driver must prove that their injuries were a direct result of their collision with you. They must also prove that the collision was a direct result of your negligence.
In this situation, it is important to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side. They can help negotiate damages to a reasonable amount between you and the other driver. However, hiring legal counsel when you are already faced with a lawsuit. If you are in a serious car accident, it is always advisable to seek legal advice as soon as possible; if you have a top personal injury lawyer on your side from the beginning, they can help guide you through the insurance and legal process more easily than you would be able to navigate it on your own.
What Happens If I’m At Fault In A Car Accident? Call Gordon & Gordon!
If you or a loved one is currently involved in the fallout of an accident, and you’re wondering “what happens if I’m at fault in a car accident?” contact Gordon & Gordon. Our Louisiana personal injury lawyers have been helping the people of Shreveport-Bossier for decades, and we can help you too.
Give us a call at 318.716.HELP, or send us a message about your case. You can make an appointment for a consultation at any of our convenient locations in Shreveport, Bossier City, or Mansfield. Don’t just sit around wondering “what happens if I’m at fault in a car accident?”, call Gordon & Gordon for compassionate legal counsel and peace of mind today.