When you’ve been injured in a car accident, correctly identifying the at-fault party is key to recovering compensation for your damages. Damages awarded in personal injury claims address your lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, mental anguish, property damage, and more.
So what happens when you’re wrongly accused of causing a car accident?
If you’ve been named as the liable party despite knowing that you were not responsible for the collision, Buckingham & Vega Law Firm can help. Our team of Albuquerque car crash attorneys know how to dispute fault and will conduct an in-depth investigation to determine what really happened.
Who Decides Who Is at Fault for a Car Accident?
Multiple parties often play a role in deciding who was at fault for an auto accident, including police officers, insurance adjusters, and lawyers.
- Police officers – Police officers respond to the scene of the accident, record important information, issue citations, speak with drivers and eyewitnesses, and create accident reports. Accident reports do not necessarily contain a final determination regarding fault. However, when liability is abundantly clear (such as in the case of a drunk driver), the accident report may contain a statement assigning fault to one driver.
- Insurance adjusters – Sometimes referred to as a claims adjuster, an insurance adjuster is an individual from the insurance company who investigates claims. The results of this investigation will determine whether the insurer decides to pay for damages.
- Lawyers – Insurance companies prioritize profits over paying injury claims, which is where lawyers come in. Personal injury attorneys investigate the circumstances surrounding accidents, collect evidence, speak with eyewitnesses, deal with the insurance company, and negotiate fair settlements on behalf of their clients.
Never allow someone with ulterior motives to decide whether you were at fault for a car accident. An insurance adjuster, no matter how friendly, is not on your side. They are investigating your case on behalf of the insurer, and their main job is to save their employer money by denying claims whenever possible. This includes wrongfully blaming you for an accident you didn’t cause.
What if I’m Blamed for a Car Crash I Didn’t Cause?
If you are blamed for a car crash that you didn’t cause, you can lose out on your legal right to recover compensation for your damages from the other driver’s insurance company. New Mexico follows pure comparative negligence, which allows accident victims to recover compensation based on their percentage of fault.
For example, a driver who is determined to be 90% at fault for an accident could still be awarded damages, although they would be reduced by the percentage of fault—in this case, 90%. This means that so long as you are not 100% at fault, you may still be entitled to a small settlement award.
If you were not at fault, there is no need for you to accept anything less than the full amount that you are owed.
Even if the insurance company does not try to pin 100% of the blame on you, even partial fault can drastically reduce your settlement, making it difficult, if not impossible, to fully address the entirety of your damages. When you have overdue medical bills and your bank account is growing smaller and smaller by the day, even a 10% reduction in compensation can complicate your recovery even further.
If an accident report or an insurance adjuster names you as the at-fault party for a car accident, it is in your best interest to contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. You will not be able to combat the insurance company’s version of events without the backing of an experienced attorney who can correctly determine liability.
How To Dispute Car Accident Fault
It is not enough to simply tell the insurance company that you did not cause the car accident. In fact, the more information you supply about the crash, the more the insurer may purposely twist or misconstrue your words to paint you as the at-fault party.
Taking a careful, step-by-step approach will be key to your overall chances of successfully disputing fault for your car accident.
Inform the Insurance Company
You should tell the insurance company that you disagree with their findings. Inform them by phone and in writing that you will be providing additional evidence that reframes the current picture of fault. You do not have to provide any additional information at this point. The goal of this contact is simply to alert the insurer of your intentions to dispute fault.
You’ll need evidence to back up your claim. Evidence that can be helpful for disputing car accident liability includes:
- Photographs and videos of the accident scene
- Dashcam and security footage that depicts the crash
- Eyewitness statements
- Copies of the police report
- Cell phone records
Compiling the evidence you need to dispute fault is not easy, even in the best of situations. If you were seriously injured in a car accident, can’t work, and are trying to focus on your recovery, you’ll need help convincing the insurance company that the other driver was at fault.
Contact a Lawyer
The most effective way to dispute car accident fault is to work with a personal injury lawyer. A lawyer will be familiar with all the tricks and tactics used by the big insurance companies to limit and deny liability and will be prepared to meet any attempt to bully you out of compensation head-on.
An attorney can:
- Collect and provide relevant evidence to the insurance company
- Correctly identify who caused the accident
- Correct factual errors in the police report
- Work with relevant professionals, including accident reconstructionists
- Negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf
Most importantly, a personal injury lawyer will be an advocate for you in a situation where it feels like everyone else is against you.
Secure the Car Accident Compensation You Deserve
If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle wreck caused by another driver’s negligence, you deserve to be fully and fairly compensated for your injuries, financial losses, mental anguish, and other related damages. Being unfairly accused of causing the crash makes recovering compensation for these damages nearly impossible.
If you are ready to dispute car accident fault, contact our Albuquerque law office to schedule a free consultation as soon as possible. The insurance company will take rapid action if they think you caused the wreck, so it is important to begin building a strong claim with an attorney who cares.