May 6, 2024

I’m in a “fault” state. What does that mean if I’m in an accident?

Lawyer analyzing documents with model cars and a gavel on desk, symbolizing a car accident lawsuit consultation

In a "fault" state, also known as a "tort" state, liability for car accidents is determined based on fault. This means that the driver who is found to be at fault for causing the accident is responsible for covering the damages incurred by the other parties involved in the collision. 

Typically, the at-fault driver’s insurance policy covers the costs associated with the collision for every party involved in the crash. Although at-fault states provide financial incentives for drivers to operate their vehicles safely, proving fault can be a complicated process that requires the legal support of a state-licensed personal injury attorney.

At-fault states do not require motor vehicle owners to buy personal injury protection (PIP) to cover the costs associated with medical bills. Although living in an at-fault state appears to make the auto insurance claim process easier to navigate, the fact remains that proving fault for an auto accident case is difficult to do. This is especially true if you do not hire an experienced personal injury attorney.

Each state has established its own laws concerning which party should assume fault for causing a motor vehicle collision. You either live in an at-fault or a no-fault state. Both categories determine how legal liability is assigned for a car accident, as well as how insurance policies apply to everyone involved in a crash.


Other things to know about a fault state

Fault Determination: When a car accident occurs in a fault state, an investigation is conducted to determine who was responsible for causing the accident. This may involve gathering evidence such as witness statements, police reports, photographs of the accident scene, and other relevant information.

Insurance Claims: In fault states, drivers typically file insurance claims with their own insurance company to cover the damages resulting from the accident. If the other driver is found to be at fault, their insurance company may be responsible for paying for the damages to your vehicle, medical expenses, lost wages, and other losses.

Comparative Fault: Some fault states have comparative fault rules, which means that liability for the accident may be divided among multiple parties based on their degree of fault. For example, if you are found to be partially at fault for the accident, your compensation may be reduced by your percentage of fault.

Legal Recourse: If you're injured in a car accident and the other driver is at fault, you may have the option to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver to seek compensation for your damages. This may include compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other losses.

Insurance Requirements: In fault states, drivers are typically required to carry liability insurance to cover damages they may cause to others in an accident. The minimum required coverage amounts vary by state, so it's important to familiarize yourself with your state's insurance requirements.

Overall, being in a fault state means that responsibility for car accidents is determined based on fault, and the at-fault driver is typically responsible for compensating the other parties involved in the accident for their damages. If you're involved in a car accident in a fault state, it's important to gather evidence, report the accident to your insurance company, and consider seeking legal advice to protect your rights and pursue compensation for your losses.


How Should I Respond to a Car Accident in a Fault State?

If you're involved in a car accident in a fault state, act quickly and appropriately to protect your interests and ensure that you can seek compensation for your damages.

First and foremost, check yourself and others involved in the accident for injuries. If anyone is injured, call 911 immediately to request medical assistance. Even if injuries seem minor, seek medical attention.

If possible, move your vehicle to a safe location out of the flow of traffic to avoid further accidents and injuries. Turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers to the accident scene.

Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver(s) involved in the accident. Obtain their name, phone number, address, driver's license number, insurance company name, policy number, and vehicle information (make, model, year, license plate number).

Take photographs of the accident scene, including the vehicles involved, any damage sustained, road conditions, traffic signs or signals, and any relevant landmarks. This documentation can serve as evidence later on.

In many fault states, you're required to report car accidents to law enforcement if they result in injuries, fatalities, or significant property damage. Even if it's not required, it's advisable to contact the police to document the accident and obtain an official police report.

If there are witnesses to the accident, obtain their names and contact information. Witness statements can be valuable when determining fault and establishing the circumstances of the accident.

Notify your insurance company as soon as possible to report the accident. Provide them with all the relevant details, including the other driver's information, the extent of damages, and any injuries sustained.

If you're unsure how to proceed or if you've been injured in the accident, contact Morgan & Morgan for a qualified attorney who specializes in personal injury law. Our legal team can help protect your rights, navigate the claims process, and pursue compensation for your damages.

Having one of Morgan & Morgan’s experienced attorneys on your side can significantly improve your chances of securing fair compensation for your injuries and losses. An attorney can navigate the complexities of the legal process, negotiate with insurance companies, and advocate on your behalf to maximize your recovery.

Car accidents are a common occurrence, and they can have devastating consequences for victims and their families. If you've been injured in a car accident in a fault state, you don't have to face the aftermath alone. With Morgan & Morgan by your side, you can trust that your rights will be protected, and your voice will be heard. Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation and learn how we can help you seek justice and fair compensation for your injuries and losses.