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Is It a Mistake To Admit Fault After a Car Accident in Austin?

Is It a Mistake To Admit Fault After a Car Accident in Austin?

If you’ve been in a car accident, you should not admit fault, even if you think you were partially responsible. It may be tempting to admit fault to the other driver or someone else at the scene –  but most often, that is not in your best interests. Let’s discuss why.

If You Admit Fault, Your Insurance Company May Deny Your ClaimIf You Admit Fault, Your Insurance Company May Deny Your Claim

Insurance companies are for-profit businesses. If you give them a reason to deny you coverage for a claim, they will probably use it to help reduce their bottom line. If you tell them that you were at fault for the accident, or they find out that you said this to law enforcement or someone else involved in the accident, they may use it to deny your claim.

To explain, Texas uses a fault system for accidents. This means that the party who was at fault–or their insurance company–will be liable for the other party’s damages.  However, liability coverage often applies to damages to another party, not to the insured. So, your insurance company may not have to cover your own damages–only those of the driver if you were at fault.

Insurance companies are known to look for reasons to avoid paying on claims. If you admit you were at fault, even just a little bit, there’s a good chance they’ll deny your claim. This could deny you vital compensation because, as we’ll discuss further, you may not actually be to blame–at least not completely.

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You May Not Actually Be Responsible for the Accident

Another important reason you should not admit fault right after a car accident is that you may not actually be at fault. Accidents can be caused by a mix of things going wrong, not just one person’s negligence. 

The weather, the time of day, even the condition of the road, all these factors may play a part. Also, a defective car part, improperly maintained road signs, or a mechanic’s faulty repair could be to blame. 

So, admitting fault before you’ve had a chance to really figure out what happened is a decision you may regret later. 

Here’s an example. You’re driving down the road, and you hit the car in front of you because you didn’t come to a complete stop in time. This is unusual for you because you’re a careful driver and you usually follow at a safe distance. You’ve always heard that in a rear-end collision, the driver who hit the car in front of them is at fault. So, you assume you caused the accident, feel guilty, and admit fault to the other driver and law enforcement.

But what if your attorney had the chance to conduct a careful investigation? Consider that, after a careful investigation, your lawyer would have discovered that your brakes were faulty and there was an oil spill on the road prior to your accident that wasn’t properly cleaned up. These factors could be the true cause of the accident–not your driving. 

However, if you’ve already admitted fault directly after an accident, your lawyer may never have the chance to complete this investigation, or they may be unable to successfully prove your claim in court. 

You May Be Only Partially Responsible for the Accident

Texas is a “modified comparative negligence” state. Comparative negligence is a principle used in tort cases–like car accident cases–that the court uses to reduce the amount a plaintiff can recover based on the degree to which each party contributed to the accident. Essentially, this means that you can receive at least some compensation if you were partially to blame for the accident–so long as you are less than 51% to blame. 

But, if you are not less than 51% to blame for the accident, then you won’t be able to recover damages. If you admit fault right after an accident, the other parties involved may use that to argue that you contributed more to the accident than you really did. 

For example, if you say you are “completely” to blame for an accident, the other party may argue that you were 100% responsible and, therefore, not entitled to recover any damages. 

Don’t deprive yourself of the chance to recover at least partial compensation for your losses by admitting fault after an accident. Especially because, as discussed earlier, you may not understand all the causes of the accident yet. 

What Should You Do After a Car Accident in Austin, Texas?

The best thing you can do is say as little as possible after an accident. Do not admit fault, and do not apologize. Do not discuss details of the accident with the witnesses, the other people involved, or the insurance company’s representatives. Limit your discussions to making sure everyone is safe and exchanging the necessary personal information. 

Then, the next best move you can make is to call an experienced car accident attorney, so they can do the talking and negotiating on your behalf. They will have the experience to help you navigate these situations without depriving you of your chance to receive compensation.

Later, if it is conclusively shown that you were at fault in the accident, you will have a chance to discuss it with other people if you want. However, a knee-jerk reaction to admit fault for an accident can have negative financial repercussions and, what’s more, may just be incorrect. You might end up shouldering more blame than you should, and that’s not fair to you. 

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Call Us if You’ve Been in an Accident in Austin and Think You May Be at Fault

If you’ve been in a car accident and think you may have been at fault, speak with an experienced attorney to discuss your options. Contact FVF Law to see how our experienced car accident attorneys in Austin, Texas, can help you today. Reach out to us at (512) 982-9328 to get a free consultation

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