Getting into a car accident can be terrifying, especially if severe damage is done to you or your vehicle. Even if you are not at fault, you still may need to worry about how the damage will be paid for- after all, the person who is at fault may try to put the blame onto you.
How can you prove that you were not the cause of the accident?
If you are ever in a situation like this, don’t worry. Here’s a guide on how to prove you are not at fault in a car accident.
Research the Traffic Laws in Your State
Even if you believe the fault is easy to see based on the positioning of the cars involved, it’s important that you look into the traffic laws in your state. Certain states have no-fault car insurance; this means that it doesn’t matter who is at fault in the accident.
If you are in a no-fault state, then each policyholder will be compensated up to a certain amount by their insurance companies. This can be used to pay off any damages to the vehicle.
If you are in an at-fault car insurance state, however, then gathering evidence will be crucial to proving your innocence. Even if you are considered at-fault by your insurance provider, you can dispute the claim with enough evidence.
Look for Traffic Violations
As you are gathering information, pay close attention to the scene itself. Take note of stop signs, traffic lights, and any other signs that could prove that there was a traffic violation.
Make sure to take note of speed limit signs as well. It may be possible to show whether or not the person at-fault was speeding from the damage done to one or both vehicles.
If there are any traffic violations that you aren’t sure of, then you can look into your state’s traffic laws further to find other potential violations. Keep a clear record of everything that you find for later use.
Gather Physical Evidence
As you are gathering your notes, don’t forget to include physical evidence as well as anecdotes. Take plenty of photos of the vehicles, any traffic signs in the area, and the scene where the accident took place. Make sure you get as many angles of the incident as possible for later review.
This will help to show exactly what position the vehicles were in during the crash. The positioning of the cars can help to determine who is at fault; for example, if the crash was head-on and one car is in the wrong lane, that may prove fault. However, if the left side of one car was damaged while the other was going straight, then whoever was turning left will likely be deemed at fault.
Of course, some instances where the person at fault seems cut and dry have more factors in play; that’s why taking photos of any potential traffic violations is important to proving your innocence. For example, if you were turning left on a green light but the other driver ran through it on a red light, you will not be considered at fault.
When taking your photos, make sure you include the damage to both cars. It may prove important to show how each car was affected by the crash so that your insurance providers can see who hit who where. Even if you think a shot might be unimportant, take it. You never know what could be helpful.
Keep Your Details Organized and Filed
When it comes to organizing your evidence, it’s best to keep both a written record as well as a digital copy. That way you’ll still have your evidence on hand should you lose something. Your lawyer is going to want as much information as possible, so it’s better not to risk losing information.
Once you have everything sorted, get a copy ready to send to your lawyer. Include both a digital and physical copy for them as well in case any information gets lost. This includes any videos, pictures, or police reports that you were able to get during your initial investigation.
Don’t Admit to Anything
You may be tempted to apologize after an accident, even if you are not at fault. However, this can be used against you if the matter is brought to court. The other person involved may try to say something along the lines of, “Why would they have apologized to me if they weren’t responsible for the accident?”
To avoid any potential problems in court, it’s better not to say anything regarding the incident. Don’t admit fault, don’t say what happened, and don’t apologize for anything! Just gather the evidence you need, exchange insurance information, and leave the talking to your lawyer.
Get a Copy of Police Reports
If harm was done to you or your vehicle, it’s important that you contact the police right away so that they can begin filing a report. Answer their questions as clearly and honestly as you can, but once again, don’t admit to anything.
Once everything is cleared up, get at least one copy of an accurate police report for your file. You may want to consider getting two so that your lawyer can have a copy as well, though this is not completely necessary.
The police report will be a vital piece of evidence for you since they are well versed in the traffic laws in your state. They may notice violations that you wouldn’t have spotted that you can include in your own defense.
The police will also record their own thoughts on who is at fault; this will be incredibly helpful when it comes to filing a claim with your insurance company since they will be more likely to listen to the opinions of an officer on the scene.
Even if the police don’t show up on the scene, you should still get to a police agency right away to report the incident and your findings. Your insurance companies will have an easier time coming to a decision with a police report involved.
Locate Potential Witnesses
Was there anyone nearby that witnessed the accident that you can talk to? If so, you may want to reach out to them after the accident for any information they might have.
If you are uncomfortable doing this, you can mention potential witnesses to the police when they come. They will be more experienced at talking with witnesses and will be able to ask the right questions. You can then look at their information in the police reports after the incident is over.
These witnesses could be anyone from joggers, to dog-walkers, to people sitting in a nearby park. Don’t discount anyone in the area, as they could have seen or heard something to help your case. Report any information you get from these witnesses to the police and encourage them to talk with the witnesses as well.
If you were alone during the incident, then don’t worry; having witnesses may help your situation, but you can still get plenty of evidence without them.
Contact a Professional
Once you have gathered a sufficient amount of evidence, it’s time to get a lawyer involved. There are lawyers who deal specifically with car accidents, so make sure you contact one; they will have the most experience helping people in your situation and can provide any help you need.
Of course, you can contact your lawyer at any point during your information-gathering process. They will be able to help you find additional evidence for your case, so don’t be afraid to contact one right away for assistance. A lawyer can help you discover pieces of evidence you may not have thought to look for, making them invaluable for solving your case.
Are you unsure where to search for a lawyer or how to tell if a lawyer is good? Use this legal resource to find a car accident lawyer near you who can help you win your case.
How to Prove You are Not at Fault in a Car Accident
Now that you know how to prove you are not at fault in a car accident, you can take these tips with you and be prepared for the worst. While you will hopefully never have to use this advice, it is always better to be prepared for whatever situations life may throw at you!
Have you ever been involved in a serious car accident? How were you able to prove you weren’t at fault?
We’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment down below with your experiences and continue reading our blog for more helpful tips.