Being involved in a collision is difficult enough without also having to deal with a car accident liability dispute with an insurance company. Some insurance companies will dispute the liability of their insureds even when witnesses and the police firmly believe that the insured were at fault. Are you involved in a car accident case in which the at-fault party is disputing their liability? Don’t give up hope. With the help of an experienced car accident attorney, you can build a strong case that demonstrates the liability of the other motorist.
How to Handle a Car Accident Liability Dispute
If you are injured in a car accident that was caused by the negligence of the other driver, you might be shocked when the insurance company and the at-fault driver try to dispute liability. Insurance companies are motivated to minimize the amounts of money that they need to pay out in accident claims. One way that they try to reduce their losses is by disputing the liability of their insureds in accidents. If this happens, you will need help from someone who knows how to collect evidence that clearly demonstrates the liability of the other driver. An experienced car accident lawyer may work with investigators and accident reconstruction experts to help you build a strong case and to encourage the insurance company to settle.
How Fault Is Determined
Insurance adjusters and attorneys analyze accidents to determine what happened immediately beforehand. In many cases, there will be obvious indicators of the fault of a driver. For example, if the driver committed a traffic violation such as running a red light or speeding right before the accident, the violation may be used as direct evidence of liability. Other types of driving behaviors may also be negligent and cause accidents while not being illegal. For example, your attorney may look for evidence of the other driver being distracted by eating food while driving or talking on a hands-free cell phone. In some cases the at-fault driver may have been impaired and should not have been driving. Police reports provide important information, but they are not definitive or legal proof of fault in a car accident case.
Reasons Insurance Companies Deny Car Accident Claims
Insurance companies stay in business by ensuring that the amount they bring in premiums exceeds the amount they pay out in claims. Therefore, insurance adjusters are incentivized to deny claims as much as possible. They think that many people will not challenge this denial so they look for any reason to deny the claim. Common reasons for a claim denial include the following:
ACCIDENT WAS PREVENTABLE OR NOT QUICKLY REPORTED
The insurance adjuster may deny the claim if you could have avoided the accident or claims that you did something that helped cause the accident. Additionally, if you do not promptly report the accident to law enforcement or make a claim quickly, the insurance adjuster may doubt the truthfulness of the claim.
DELAY IN MEDICAL CARE
After a car accident, you may not realize the full extent of your injuries. You may feel a surge of adrenaline that masks the symptoms of an injury. If you wait to seek treatment for your injuries, the insurance company may deny your claim altogether. The adjuster may claim that the injury was pre-existing or that your condition was worsened by not seeking prompt medical care.
It is important that you seek medical treatment right after an accident to avoid the adjuster making a denial on this basis. If you sought medical treatment immediately after the accident and have the proof to show it, you will have a stronger case.
DAMAGES EXCEED POLICY LIMITS
In other situations, your claim may be denied because the damages exceed policy limits. Every insurance contract only covers damages up to a certain limit. If your damages exceed the limits, the insurance company can only pay up to the limits. A lawyer may review if there is other insurance coverage that can help cover your damages or other parties that contributed to the accident.
DRIVER NOT LISTED ON POLICY
Sometimes, claims are denied because the driver who was responsible for the accident was not listed on the policy. He or she may be excluded from coverage. A lawyer may review the contract that applies to your case and see whether the accident should be covered under the policy.
DRIVING ILLEGALLY OR NEGLIGENTLY
If you drove in a way that violated state law, the claim may be denied. Some examples include:
- You were drinking and driving
- You drove without a license
- You drove without insurance
Building a Strong Case That Proves Liability
If you’re engaged in a car accident liability dispute, and the other party’s insurance company is disputing all or part of your claim, your car accident attorney will need to build a strong case that clearly shows fault. In order to do this, your lawyer will work to gather as much evidence as possible. He or she may also hire an accident reconstruction expert, who performs calculations to show speed/distance and to show what happened just before the accident, and give an opinion regarding liability. Your lawyer may also use an investigator to contact and interview any witnesses. Finally, once all of the evidence of liability has been gathered, your lawyer may present it to the insurance company. An experienced injury attorney will most likely not charge you out of pocket for a thorough investigation of your case.
In many cases, insurance companies will ultimately decide to settle accident claims when they are presented with strong evidence demonstrating the liability of their insureds. Wishing to avoid the risk of a trial, they will seek a settlement instead. So while it may be overwhelming to have liability disputed after your car accident, you should remember that most car accident claims are settled before they ever get to trial.