After a car accident happens in the State of New York, one of the most important things to determine is who is at fault for the accident. If a car accident leads to any serious injury including broken bones, spinal injuries or death, the insurance of the driver who caused the accident will be responsible for paying the damages for the injured party.
But how do the insurance companies determine who is at fault for the accident? Auto insurance companies will use state laws and details of the crash to determine who exactly is at fault for the crash and resulting damages. Let’s take a look at what items are typically evaluated by the insurance companies:
No matter who is at-fault for the accident, it’s always a good idea to file a police report after you’ve been in an accident. The police report is considered to be a good, objective look at the accident in the eyes of insurance companies. The police are experienced in asking the right types of questions that will help insurance to determine fault.
If you have suffered a serious injury after a car accident, the police report will act as evidence and help to support your claim against the opposing party by providing exact details on what occurred including the date and time of the accident, injuries sustained, property damage sustained and driver statements.
Witnesses and Evidence
At the scene of the accident, collecting evidence can be important, especially if you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit against the opposing driver. Taking photographs of damage to your vehicle, your injuries, road defects and placement of vehicles will be extremely important to helping determine fault. Information regarding statements, damages and date of the accident will be included in your police report.
If there are any witnesses to the accident, be sure to collect their contact information, as your insurance company may need their official witness statements to help determine who is at fault for the accident.
State Liability Laws
New York State follows a “no-fault” system for most motor vehicle accidents. Each driver in the State of New York is required to carry a minimum amount of no-fault insurance coverage and their own insurance company will pay for medical expenses and lost wages up to the no-fault policy limit regardless of who is at fault. If a driver has collision coverage, their insurance will pay to repair the vehicle regardless of fault.
In contrast to no-fault, fault comes into play in a claim for personal injuries. In order to obtain a personal injury settlement for pain and suffering, the injured party will need to prove that the other driver is at fault and that they suffered a “serious injury” as a result of the accident. This is a phrase that is defined in New York’s Insurance Law. If the injured party is able to prove that they sustained a “serious injury”, the injured party will be able to make a personal injury claim under New York law. If the injured party also was partly at fault for the car crash, then based on New York’s comparative fault rules, any settlement is reduced by the percentage of fault attributable to that person.
Under New York’s negligence law, an insurance adjuster will consider the circumstances of the accident and the actions of each party leading up the accident including the speed of the car, if traffic laws were being followed, cell phone usage at the time of the accident or other distractions and environmental factors.
If both drivers in the crash are at fault, then the driver will only be able to recover the percentage in which they are not at fault. For example, if the injured driver is found to be 60% at fault, whatever damages that person can collect will be reduced by that same 60%.
What to Do After an Accident
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or has passed away as a result of a car crash, you should seek legal help to evaluate your claims. The dedicated team of attorneys at Cellino Law have decades of experience fighting for those who have been injured as a result of another person’s negligence and have worked to help clients receive the maximum compensation from insurance companies. We are available 24/7 to consult with you regarding your claim, call us at 800-555-5555. Car crash? Call Cellino!