With a flash of lights and a screech of tires, your drive home ends abruptly. You've been in your first car accident. It all happened so fast that you're not yet sure what caused it, but your first thought is still likely to be: Was I at fault? You may quickly decide that you weren't, that the other driver caused it, all while he or she is coming to the same conclusion about you.
So, one of the biggest questions you'll need to ask is simple. Can you both be at fault, or does it have to be either you or the other driver?
It is possible for you both to be at fault. In fact, the accident may have occurred only because you both made a mistake at the same time.
For example, you may be changing lanes on the interstate, and you may not check your mirrors. As a result, you abruptly change lanes in front of another driver, cutting him or her off. That car slams into the back of you, seemingly out of nowhere. However, part of the reason you didn't see that car was that the driver was speeding. Yes, you should have checked, but a driver going 20 MPH over the posted limit also contributed to the accident. He or she was breaking the law and couldn't slow down or stop in time because of it.
In some states, who was at fault matters greatly when putting in an insurance claim, because these states use comparative negligence. This means you each get a percentage of the blame. If it's 100/0 in your favor, the other driver was fully responsible, and this does happen. In the situation above, though, things could be split 50/50 or 60/40, meaning you both have to cover the costs. One driver doesn't get all of the responsibility if the other contributed as well.
Make sure you know the state laws and how fault is going to be determined. Once it has been, be sure you also know how that determination of fault is going to play into your ability to seek compensationfor your injuries.
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