How to Dispute Fault in a Car Accident?

Accidents happen as the saying goes, and if you live in the Houston metropolitan area, you’re likely to see far more than your fair share. According to 2018 statistics from TxDOT, Houston area crashes accounted for 297 fatalities and 1175 suspected serious injuries that year. If you’ve been involved in an accident in Texas and were unjustly faulted for it, you need a good car wreck lawyer to stand up and dispute fault for you.

Texas Comparative Fault Law – The 51 Percent Rule

Sometimes it’s easy to determine who is responsible for an accident, such as if a drunk driver enters a freeway going in the wrong direction. Other times it’s not so clear cut. For example, both drivers in an accident may be faulted for speeding or driving erratically.

Texas employs a comparative fault law that allows a driver even partially responsible for their accident to collect some damages, so long as it is determined they are less than 51 percent responsible. Of course, the greater the percentage of responsibility you are attributed, the less you can collect. However, if a driver is determined to be 51 percent or more responsible for the accident, they cannot collect any damages from the other driver’s insurance company.

How Is Fault Determined?

Soon after you’ve been involved in a car accident, the process of collecting evidence will begin. The police officers who arrive on the scene will gather information from the drivers, any witnesses available, as well as physical evidence and prepare a report. They’ll look at the vehicles’ points of impact, make note of any injuries sustained, possibly take photographs of damages and debris, and determine if any surveillance footage is available. They may also issue citations.

The insurance companies and their adjusters will also get involved. While they usually put high reliance on the information collected by the police, they’ll also make their own inquiries. Once they feel they have all the necessary pieces of the puzzle, they’ll assign fault to one or more drivers.

What If a Wrong Determination Is Made?

It’s important to remember that insurance company personnel, adjusters, and police officers are only human and they can make mistakes. So if you feel you have been wrongly blamed for an accident or attributed too great a percentage of responsibility for it, it is your right to dispute fault.

Disputing a Ticket

If the police issued you a citation for the accident, you and your lawyer should make an attempt to talk to the officers who investigated the accident. You want to avoid having this ticket on your record, and you don’t want your insurance rates to increase. In some cases, pointing out an obvious error could result in the citation being dismissed or downgraded.

You can also appeal the fault determination. In most cases, these disagreements are handled by third-party mediators who will hear both sides. If you didn’t have a lawyer before and particularly if the charges are serious, it would be in your best interests to hire a knowledgeable, experienced car wreck lawyer to represent you and guide you through the process.

Disputing the Insurance Company’s Determination

You can also dispute an insurance company’s findings by contacting the insurance company both by phone and in writing.

When you dispute fault, you should include the specific claims you disagree with and provide evidence of why you feel they have made the wrong determination. Be sure to obtain a copy of the police report and let them know what information, if any, is wrong and provide corrections. You may also want to include a written statement of how the accident occurred. As with all written communications, your car wreck lawyer should review it before submitting it to the insurance company. There may be some back and forth, so be sure to keep copies of all written communications.

How Can a Law Firm Help Me Dispute Fault?

If you have not gotten satisfaction, you can bring a civil lawsuit against the insurance company that has assigned you fault unfairly. Keep in mind, if you had not hired a law firm to represent you earlier, this is definitely not the time to go it alone.

Seek out a personal injury law firm with extensive experience representing clients involved in serious accidents. Not only can they provide guidance when dealing with insurance companies or during an appeals process, but they can provide expert representation if your case goes to court. Your lawyer will dispute fault for you and clearly and directly present the evidence showing your argument. As your representative, they employ the best strategies to offset arguments made by the opposing party in your suit.

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