How to Dispute Fault in a Car Accident

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With liability in high-dollar cases based on fault for the accident, who is at fault is extremely important. If the other side is at fault, you may receive compensation. If you’re more than 50% at fault for an accident in Florida, you have no claim.

If you’re falsely accused of being at fault, you need to know how to dispute it. Our Pensacola car accident lawyers at Stevenson Klotz Injury Lawyers explain how to dispute car accident faults.

How Do You Dispute Liability in a Car Accident?

To dispute liability in a car accident, ask for correction of the police report. Fight any ticket or criminal charges that you receive. Investigate and present your evidence to the insurance company. Pursue your case through internal appeals. If necessary, file a lawsuit and present your case to a jury.

10 Ways to Dispute Liability in a Car Accident

Here are 10 ways to dispute liability in a car accident:

Contest the accident report

For car accidents of any severity, law enforcement must complete a Long Form Florida Traffic Crash Report. (Florida Statutes § 316.066). An accident report contains both facts and opinions, either of which can be incorrect.

The law enforcement officer records the location of the collision, the type of intersection, the roadway surface condition and the first harmful event. They record vehicle, driver and witness information. The officer will also draw a diagram of the collision and write a narrative.

This information can be wrong. For example, the officer may say that the skies were clear when there was heavy rain. They may spell your name wrong. To the extent that it is an obvious error, you may seek to have the report corrected. When the mistake is something that puts you at fault, contesting the report may be harder. You can contact the law enforcement officer who wrote the report. Explain the change that you are asking for and why. The officer may amend the car accident report.

Fight the traffic ticket or criminal charges

If you are issued a citation or criminal charges, fight them. It may seem easier just to pay the ticket or plead guilty, but the insurance company may look at it as an admission of fault. You have the right to a hearing. Fighting the ticket or criminal charges means that you’re serious in your belief that you’re not at fault. Work with an experienced car accident lawyer to determine the best way to fight the allegations against you.

Prove your case with photographs, video and witness statements

The police report isn’t the final say about who is at fault for a car accident. You can present photographs, video, witness statements and other evidence to dispute allegations of fault. For example, if you’re accused of being at fault for a rear-end crash, but the damage is to the sides of the vehicles, it may prove that you’re the victim of improper lane change. Determine the issues in dispute. Then see what evidence you can gather to dispute the allegations.

Investigate third parties

Sometimes, it looks like you’re at fault, but there is a third party at fault. For example, a manufacturing error in the vehicle may have caused your steering to behave unpredictably. Road disrepair or design may be a factor. You may need to investigate possible third parties with liability.

Cite a statutory violation

One question the insurance company might have is – If you’re not at fault, then who is? You may cite a traffic violation, criminal law or other negligence that makes another party responsible. To receive compensation from another party, you must prove their negligence and your right to compensation. Identifying the negligence of another can disprove fault against you and prove your right to compensation.

Write a demand letter

A demand letter is a clear statement to the insurance company of your claim. A demand letter can dispute car accident fault and let the insurance company know that you’re serious about your compensation.

Pursue internal insurance appeals

Even if the insurance company initially denies your claim, you may pursue internal appeals. You’re asking the insurance company to reconsider and have additional representatives review the case. Internal appeals are not a substitute for filing a legal claim, but they are a way to dispute fault.

Use an accident reconstructionist

A reconstructionist looks at the evidence to determine what caused the accident. They consider damage, location of debris and other factors to explain the events. If the evidence is inconsistent with your fault, the expert can show why and who is truly at fault.

Deny fault in responsive pleadings

If you’re accused of car accident fault in a lawsuit, you must deny it in responsive pleadings. Generally, you must admit or deny allegations in responsive pleadings. Failing to deny may amount to an admission unless no responsive pleading is required. Complying with the timelines and substantive requirements of civil procedure is critical to disputing fault for a car accident. See Florida Rules of Civil Procedure 1.110.

Take your case to trial

You have the right to take your legal claim to trial. If you’re accused of fault, you don’t have to accept it. You can use the legal process, resulting in trial, for a determination of fault for a car accident.

Get Legal Help

Disputing car accident fault isn’t easy — Stevenson Klotz Injury Lawyers represent clients to claim car accident compensation, including disputing fault when necessary.

With big changes to Florida’s comparative negligence laws in 2023, disputing fault in a car accident is more important than ever before. If you’re found to be any degree more than 50% at fault for an accident, you can’t receive compensation.

We’re ready to do what it takes to dispute fault in an auto accident. Bring your case to us and let us review your situation. To see how we can assist you, contact us today at 850-444-0000 or message us online.

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