In a car accident, most people will know who’s at fault – the other party! Very few will state upfront that the accident is their fault – human beings place self-preservation foremost, after all. However, if the car accident is really not your fault, what should you do if the offending driver refuses to back down?
Discuss whether or not to make a claim
Assuming that the accident was fairly minor and the police were not called to the scene, the drivers involved in the accident should discuss the implications of the accident. If the other party is prepared to accept responsibility for the accident, then the road ahead is clear – sign a written consent form, stating that the other party has claimed responsibility for the accident, and discuss whether you would like to settle the case without involving the insurance companies.
However, even with the signed form, the offending driver might change his or her mind, and proceed to press claims against you. This is the reason why you should take down the driver’s contact details, the time of the accident and possibility photographs of the accident as evidence.
Simultaneously, you should be searching for witnesses of the accident as well. The passengers of the vehicles do not count as objective witnesses – they are somehow related to the drivers involved in the accident, after all. You will need to find others in the area – other drivers, passersbys or nearby store owners. It is never a good idea to ask for witnesses to make a statement at the scene of the accident; taking down their contact details will be enough in case further investigation is required.
One thing worth noting is to authenticate the contact details of the other driver and the witnesses before they leave the scene. This ensures that they do not give you bogus names or telephone numbers, which will make them untraceable after the accident, putting the case against you.
Making a claim against a third party
If none of the drivers accepts responsibility, the insurance companies of each driver will conduct independent investigations to determine who’s at fault.
All relevant details of the accidents should be passed to the insurers when making a claim. There, your insurance company will handle all the administrative work – they will arrange for interviews with you, with witnesses that you have gathered, compile evidence, correspond with the other driver’s insurance company to compile notes and eventually come to a conclusion. However, this process will take months, even years, before the claim is approved by either insurance company.
What happens if the other party has no insurance?
In the unfortunate event that the other party involved in the accident has no insurance coverage, the situation will become much more complicated. The fact that they are driving around without insurance will usually come to light at the scene of the accident, when you are asking for their contact details.
Once again, it is very important for the driver who is involved in the accident to remain calm and try to get accurate identification details – the driver without proper insurance coverage will not want to do that, and may will leave a bogus name and mobile number for you in order to escape the scene of accident as quickly as possible.
In this instance the innocent party will have no option but to claim for damages against their own insurance, and absorb all ancillary costs. In turn their insurance will make a personal claim against the uninsured which will go to court. If the proper details of the accident have been presented then the court will almost always find in favour of the joint claimants (the insurance company and the innocent driver) and all the costs of the case will also fall on the perpetrator. It can be a long drawn out procedure but this is the only option that the innocent driver has.
As mentioned, the same scenario can occur when a driver who had initially taken responsibility reneges on their promise. This can also escalate to a court case if not handled properly, which will definitely take up a large portion of your time as you trudge around mired the court proceedings. These cases may take up to a year to be resolved.
Whenever an accident happens, pray that the other driver will claim responsibility. This makes things much more smooth-sailing – and you probably won’t have to involve the insurance companies, causing your premiums and deductibles to spike because of this.
While the majority of drivers who caused the accident are usually prepared to accept responsibility and cooperate with the innocent driver, there are always those who are unwilling be the gentleman. As such, the rule of thumb in any accident, even one that is plainly not your fault, is to gather as much evidence that stands for your case as possible at the scene of accident.