How to Successfully Dispute an At Fault Car Insurance Claim

Getting into a car accident is stressful enough. But finding out your insurance company has deemed you “at fault” can make the situation even more difficult. Knowing your options for disputing an unfair at fault determination is crucial to getting a fair settlement.

This guide will cover:

  • What it means to be “at fault” after an auto accident
  • Reasons you may want to dispute a fault finding
  • Steps to take to successfully challenge an insurer’s decision
  • When it may not make sense to dispute fault
  • Using legal help to strengthen your case

Understanding “At Fault” Car Accident Claims

In fault-based insurance states, the driver who was negligent and primarily caused an accident is considered “at fault.” The at-fault driver’s liability insurance typically must pay for damages to the:

  • Other driver’s vehicle
  • Injuries to the other driver and passengers
  • Any third-party property damaged in the collision

The claimant’s own insurer will cover their losses, minus any deductible. But being deemed at fault for an accident can negatively impact your insurance rates and premiums.

After a collision, insurance agents investigate and analyze reports, vehicle damage, accounts from parties involved, traffic citations if any, and evidence from the scene. Based on this information, they make a fault determination – even though this is not an official legal finding.

When to Dispute an At Fault Insurance Claim

There are a few key situations when disputing an insurer’s fault finding makes sense:

  • You have strong evidence the other driver caused the accident
  • The insurer’s determination seems clearly inaccurate based on facts
  • You suffered significant injuries and losses that warrant holding the other driver liable
  • The at fault decision will substantially raise your insurance rates

Disputing fault is not usually recommended if the accident was minor, all parties have sufficient coverage, rates will not increase much, and the decision seems reasonably accurate based on available information.

Step-by-Step Guide to Disputing Fault

Follow these steps if you believe the insurer is unfairly finding you at fault for a collision:

1. Notify the Insurance Company

Call and write to the claims adjuster that you contest their liability decision. State you plan to present evidence showing you were not at fault. This creates a record of your dispute.

2. Gather Evidence Supporting Your Side

Collect police reports, photos, witness statements, and any other documentation that helps prove your version of events. Also get prompt medical attention to document physical injuries.

3. Utilize the Insurer’s Dispute Process

Some insurers have an internal appeal process for contested fault findings. Present documents and/or give a statement explaining why their decision is wrong.

4. Request any Traffic Citations Be Amended

If a citation was issued incorrectly, provide contrary evidence to the officer or court to potentially get the ticket changed or thrown out.

5. Consult a Car Accident Attorney

Have a lawyer review your case and help put together the strongest arguments. An attorney adds credibility when disputing fault with insurers.

6. File a Lawsuit as a Last Resort

If the insurer won’t change their position, formally file a personal injury lawsuit to have your case heard before a judge.

Tips for Building Your Strongest Case

The keys to overturning an unfair at fault determination are presenting irrefutable evidence the other driver was negligent and making a compelling case you acted responsibly. Useful strategies include:

  • Obtain witness statements from impartial bystanders backing up your version of events. Witnesses are given significant weight.

  • Check for traffic cameras at the intersection which may have captured video of the collision to prove what occurred.

  • Cite relevant traffic laws the other driver violated but you followed. For example, you had the right of way when they ran a stop sign.

  • Use accident reconstruction experts to analytically prove the other driver’s actions caused the collision.

  • Highlight favorable portions of the police report that align with your account.

  • Submit clear photographic evidence of vehicle damage or skid marks confirming your recollection.

  • Detail your injuries to show the impact the at fault decision could have on getting fair compensation. Severe injuries provide extra impetus for disputing liability.

Scenarios When Disputing Fault May Be Unnecessary

While no one wants to be blamed for an accident they didn’t cause, in certain cases challenging a fault determination won’t change much, so may not be worth the effort. For example:

  • You have minimal injuries that are covered by your medical payments coverage.

  • Damage was minor and your collision coverage will apply regardless of fault.

  • With modest liability limits, covering the other driver’s losses won’t overly impact future premiums.

  • The evidence reasonably shows shared fault for the accident.

  • You’ve been a longtime safe driver so rates won’t spike based on one moderate accident.

If being deemed partially at fault won’t significantly affect your ability to recover damages or increase insurance costs, it may be prudent to accept the insurer’s decision rather than dispute it.

Using Legal Help to Bolster Your Claim

Insurance companies know policyholders often don’t have the expertise or resources to fully dispute a liability finding on their own. As such, they tend to take notice when an attorney represents someone contesting fault for an accident.

Benefits of having a car accident lawyer include:

  • Adds credibility and urgency to your case
  • Professional experience negotiating with insurers
  • Ability to fully investigate accident circumstances
  • Legal perspective regarding best arguments to make
  • Skills to compile compelling evidence and testimony
  • Resources to hire traffic specialists or accident re-constructionists

While not necessary in clear-cut cases, for complex accidents hiring counsel greatly improves your chances of successfully reversing an unfair at fault determination.

When to File a Car Accident Lawsuit

If the insurer refuses to budge after you’ve presented your thorough case contesting their liability decision, your last resort may be taking legal action by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.

Reasons to consider a lawsuit include:

  • You have extensive uncompensated damages
  • The other driver clearly broke traffic laws
  • Police report and witnesses back up your innocence
  • Insufficient insurance exists to cover your losses
  • The insurer is unreasonably stonewalling your claim

Lawsuits should not be undertaken lightly given the time, costs and uncertainty involved. But when necessary to get justice after a car accident, a skilled attorney can help navigate the legal process.

Don’t Accept Blame for an Accident You Didn’t Cause

Being deemed at fault for a collision you don’t believe you caused can have significant financial and legal consequences. Before accepting an insurer’s liability finding, be sure to exhaust your options for contesting the decision by presenting counter evidence, filing appeals, and consulting a lawyer if worthwhile to do so. Don’t let an insurance company unfairly stick you with the blame without putting up a fight. With persistence and a strong case, you stand a good chance of overturning a mistaken at fault determination.

How to dispute fault in a car accident?


How do I argue an auto insurance claim?

You can do this by notifying your insurance company and contacting the agent on your case. Most insurance carriers have an internal appeal process for policyholders to fight back against decisions they believe were wrong or unfair.

Can you claim even if it was your fault?

Whether you can ultimately recover for your losses depends on how fault is allocated. In all states, it is legal for the other driver to point the finger back at you for causing or contributing to the accident. However, just because his or her insurance company pushes back does not mean you cannot recover.

Can you fight an at fault accident in Georgia?

You can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party in civil court.

Can an insurer refuse a claim?

It is important to read your policy carefully to understand when this is likely. You should get legal advice if your insurer refuses to pay your claim. Insurers may not pay if: The insurer was not given relevant information when the policy was taken out or renewed (for example, a driving conviction was not revealed).

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