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What to Do If You Were Wrongly Accused of Being At-Fault After a Car Accident
Washington, like many other states, follows a traditional fault insurance system. This means drivers who cause collisions are responsible for paying for the damages the other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians suffer from.
However, this system does contain flaws — you may be in a car accident that is not your fault and another driver may wrongly accuse you of causing the accident, holding you liable for thousands of dollars in damages. Taking quick action allows you to defend yourself against these false accusations. Contact a Seattle car accident lawyer at Colburn Law today to discuss your options after an accident.
#1: Collect Evidence at the Scene of the Accident
The steps you take immediately after a car accident will have a major impact on the outcome of your future case. If it is safe to do so and you can move around without further injury, collecting certain pieces of evidence can help you preserve the facts of the collision.
Take pictures of your injuries and vehicle damage after the crash, and take pictures of the other cars in the area as well. Photograph the area around the scene, including accident debris, skid marks, and any traffic signs and signals. If you can return to the scene a few days after the accident, photographing what it looks like under normal conditions may help as well.
In addition, you should call 911 as soon as possible after the accident to bring law enforcement and emergency medical services to the scene. The responding police officer will create an accident report based on interviews and examination of the scene, and you may be able to use this accident report to dispute your negligence.
#2: Do Not Admit Fault at the Scene of the Accident
At the scene of the accident, it may be tempting to make statements about your role in the crash. Do not make any statements or admit you committed a driving error. You may not know the actual cause of the accident, and stating you are at-fault will cause you to be liable for the other driver’s damages.
In addition, do not make any statements about your injuries. Although you may not feel in pain immediately after the crash, you could suffer internal damage or shock could be numbing your injuries. Making a premature statement could harm your chances at collecting compensation in your future claim, since the insurance company can use this information against you.
#3: Do Not Speak to an Insurance Adjuster
In the days after the accident, an insurance adjuster may contact you and ask for a statement. He or she may claim this statement will help expedite your claim and aid in his or her investigation. However, making a premature statement without knowing the actual cause of the accident or the extent of your injuries could harm you in the long term.
The insurance adjuster may use a statement you make as evidence against you in your claim, either to reduce your award amount or to prove you were the responsible party in the accident. Never speak to an adjuster until you contact a personal injury attorney.
#4: Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
Finally, contacting a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your accident can help you dispute false accusations of fault. Your attorney will have the resources, experience, and skills necessary to conduct an extensive investigation into your accident. Your lawyer can use the evidence he or she uncovers to prove the actual cause of the accident and dispel your liability.
Your attorney can also advise you on how to best approach conversations with insurance adjusters, preventing you from making a potentially harmful statement. Your lawyer will also be able to evaluate your side of the story, determine whether or not you qualify for damages, and help you pursue an insurance claim or lawsuit to help you recover from the accident.
If you have not done so already, contact your lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your claim and begin taking steps to dispute liability.