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Is It a Mistake to Admit Fault After a Car Accident?

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Is It a Mistake to Admit Fault After a Car Accident?

You should never admit fault after a car accident in Tampa, even if you believe you could be partially to blame. Even though Florida is a no-fault state for car insurance, you could still have a claim against an at-fault driver or a third party for damages. Admitting fault can significantly impact the outcome of a personal injury case.

Before you admit fault or talk with an insurance adjuster, call a Tampa personal injury lawyer for guidance. Understanding your legal options before you talk with an insurance company can help protect your right to pursue a liability claim.

You Might Not Be at Fault for Causing Your Car Accident

You Might Not Be at Fault for Causing Your Car Accident

Immediately after a traffic accident is not the time to decide whether you contributed to the cause of the crash. The stress and shock of the accident could impair your memory. Injuries may cloud memories or cause confusion.

The cause of a car accident can be challenging to determine. Crashes involving multiple vehicles or parties often lead to disputes regarding the cause and fault of the crash. It may take a full accident investigation to determine all factors contributing to the crash. Sometimes, experts may be required to reconstruct the accident or analyze the evidence to determine how the accident occurred and who is at fault.

It is unwise to admit fault until all investigations are concluded and an attorney reviews your case.

Sharing Blame for a Florida Car Accident Impacts Your Recovery for Damages

Florida requires drivers to have a minimum of $10,000 in no-fault insurance coverage (PIP insurance). Even if you cause a car accident, your PIP insurance pays benefits according to the insurance contract. Drivers do not have to prove fault to file a claim with their PIP providers.

However, if you sue an at-fault driver, you must prove negligence to recover compensation for damages. 

Florida insurance laws permit lawsuits for damages when a victim sustains severe injuries, or someone dies as the result of a car accident.

If you have a claim against the other driver, you could receive additional compensation not covered by no-fault insurance. No-fault insurance pays a portion of your economic damages and does not cover non-economic damages. Therefore, a liability claim could result in substantially higher settlements for a car accident claim.

However, Florida’s comparative fault law could significantly reduce or bar your compensation for a car accident if you are partially to blame. According to the statute, comparative fault does not bar recovery unless you are more than 50% to blame for causing the car accident. If you are less than 51% at fault, your compensation is reduced by your percentage of blame. 

For example, if you are 55% at fault for the cause of a car crash, you do not receive compensation for damages from the other driver. However, if you are 25% to blame, you could receive up to 75% of your damages from the other driver.

It is important to note that crashes occurring before March 24, 2023, are not subject to the 50% bar for comparative fault. The law changed for accidents occurring on or after March 24, 2023.

Insurance Companies Use Comparative Fault Against Accident Victims

An insurance company tries to limit liability for a car accident claim. Insurance adjusters work to reduce the value of damages if they don’t deny the claim outright. A common tactic insurance companies use is shifting some of the blame for the crash to the accident victim.

Therefore, the insurance company investigates the car crash to determine fault. They review your statements at the accident scene, comments you made when you filed the insurance claim and things you said to the insurance adjuster. Saying you woke up late and had to hurry to work could be twisted to imply that you were speeding or distracted when the crash occurred.

Do not agree to provide a recorded or written statement to the insurance company. It is also wise to remember that all calls could be subject to being recorded, even if you are not told the call is being recorded. The best way to handle the insurance company is to refer all calls to your Tampa personal injury attorney.

How Can You Prove Fault for a Tampa Car Accident?

Proving liability for damages caused by a car accident begins with proving fault for the car crash. Most car accidents are the result of driver error. 

Proving negligence requires you to have evidence establishing:

  • The other motorist owed you a legal duty of care
  • The other driver breached their duty of care by failing to meet a reasonable standard of care for operating the vehicle
  • The breach of duty proximately and directly caused the collision
  • You incurred damages and sustained injuries because of the car accident

Even though a traffic crash report might note that a driver contributed to the cause of the accident, you need additional evidence to prove your case. 

Evidence used to prove negligence in a car accident case includes:

  • Statements from the drivers and eyewitnesses
  • Physical evidence was taken from the vehicles and the accident scene
  • Testimony and opinions from accident reconstructionists and other expert witnesses
  • Data recovered from on-board recording systems
  • Medical records
  • Video of the crash taken from dash cams, traffic light cameras, and other surveillance cameras
  • Photographs and videos of the accident scene after the crash

Your car accident lawyer investigates the cause of the crash and gathers evidence. Experienced attorneys understand the level of proof needed to establish the legal elements required to hold another driver liable for damages after a Tampa car accident.

What Should I Do After a Car Accident in Tampa to Protect My Rights?

Regardless of the severity of the accident or if you believe you are at fault, taking specific steps after a car accident protects your rights. 

Steps to take after a car crash include:

  • Call 911 to report the accident. Florida requires drivers to report car accidents, even most minor fender benders.
  • Do not discuss the crash details with anyone at the accident scene, except law enforcement officers.
  • Never accept fault for causing the car accident or apologize to the other driver.
  • Explain what happened to the police officer without admitting fault or embellishing the facts.
  • Gather evidence from the accident scene, including witness names, physical evidence, and photographs.
  • Seek immediate medical treatment, even if you feel okay or fine after the crash.
  • Report the accident to your PIP insurance company.
  • Do not post on social media or talk online about the accident or your injuries.

Seeking legal advice can help you avoid making mistakes that could hurt your personal injury case. An attorney guides you through the claims process and handles the legal aspects of your case.

Get Help With a Car Accident Claim from Our Tampa Car Accident Lawyers

Dealing with a car accident claim can be complicated and stressful. However, you do not have to fight the insurance company alone. We are here to help.
Contact the law firm of Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation with an experienced Tampa car accident attorney at (813) 223-6200. Let us handle the legal fight to get you the money you deserve while you focus on healing from your accident.

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