What happens if you are at fault in a car accident is that you might be legally responsible for the injuries and expenses the victims incurred. You carry auto liability insurance for just this circumstance, and your insurer should manage the claim. However, it is imperative to understand that you may not truly be at fault, even if you think you are.
You should never state that you made a mistake or otherwise admit responsibility. In addition, don’t apologize or make any statement that might be interpreted as an admission of fault. An investigation will prove fault, and the outcome may surprise you. You can speak with a car accident attorney for a free case assessment to learn more.
What Should I Do After an Accident When I Might Be at Fault?
You should never discuss fault in your accident with anyone except your attorney. Most car accident law firms provide free consultations so you can speak with a lawyer who will assess your case. They will make a preliminary determination about fault based on the information you give them.
It might surprise you to learn that you have a case for compensation against the other driver. If possible, your attorney can take the necessary steps to prove negligence, file a claim, value your case, and demand justice. You could recover damages for your injuries, expenses, and losses.
Suing is sometimes necessary in these cases, especially when there are questions about who caused the crash and shared fault. There are also deadlines you must meet when suing, and some of these are quite short. In addition, the facts of your case could reduce your time to sue. In general, you have:
- Two years in Alabama per Code § 6-2-38
- Three years in Arkansas under Code Ann. § 16-56-105
- One year in Louisiana under Civ. Code Art. 3492
- Three years in Mississippi per Code Ann. § 15-1-49
For a free legal consultation, call 800-537-8185
Why Fault Matters in a Car Accident Case
All four states in the Gulf South – Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas – have fault-based car insurance laws. The driver who caused the crash is legally responsible for the damages the victims suffer. Thus, if you cause a crash, the victims could:
- File a claim against your auto liability insurance; or
- Sue you and take you to trial to recover compensation for the harm they suffered.
They will provide evidence to show their damages and seek a settlement for these categories of losses:
- Medical bills and future treatment needs
- Lost wages and other income
- Diminished earning capacity if there are long-term injuries
- Property damages, including car repairs
- Pain and suffering damages
They may have an attorney working for them who will handle the negotiations and represent their interests, seeking a fair settlement for them.
Comparative Fault Is a Factor in Many Auto Accidents
In many cases, drivers may contribute to a crash but not be the primary responsible party. For example, imagine you were speeding when an accident occurred. This played a role in causation, but not as much as the other driver failing to yield while turning left on green. Nevertheless, the court decides you are 20 percent at fault.
In most states, this finding would reduce the value of your case but still allow you to recover up to 80 percent of your losses in a settlement or court award. Among these states are:
- Arkansas under Code Ann.
§ 16-64-122 as long as you were 50 percent or less at fault
- Louisiana under Civ. Code Art. 2323
- Mississippi under Code Ann. § 11-7-15
However, Alabama case law supports the doctrine of “pure contributory negligence.” In Golden v. McCurry (1980), the Alabama Supreme Court affirmed that anyone who contributed to an accident could not recover damages. It is one of only four states with this rule in place.
Proving Fault in a Traffic Accident
Holding someone responsible for a traffic accident requires proving negligence. A car accident victim and their legal team will collect evidence that you:
- Had a duty to follow a particular traffic law or rule
- Failed to do so, violating your duty of care
- Caused the crash as a result
- Caused the harm the victim suffered in the collision
With this proof, they could recover compensation for their losses, including their physical, emotional, and financial harm.
Morris Bart, LLC Will Review Your Case with You Today for Free
You can discuss your car accident case with a team member from the Morris Bart law office near you at no cost. We have 15 locations across the Gulf South, serving all of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas. We represent clients based on contingency.
Call (800) 537-8185 now to speak with our team.
to find a Morris Bart office near you.