In the immediate moments following a car accident—after checking to see if everyone is healthy and safe—the likely next question for everyone involved will be: “Whose fault was this?”

Every situation is different, and even if you believe yourself to be at-fault, the first thing you should do is ensure you are remaining calm. There is no need to panic because that will only make matters worse. Fault can be tricky, but it is an extremely important aspect of the accident that will need to be determined in the future.

I think the accident my fault, now what?

First of all, you should never assume that you are at-fault. It is impossible to know all of the factors immediately following a car accident. Even if you believe to have done everything wrong, there is still a chance that this is not the case.

Who should I contact?

If you’ve been involved in a car accident in the Yakima, Washington, area, contact us to talk with an experienced attorney. You should never assume that you’re at-fault for an accident until an attorney looks at the full extent of the accident and your case.

Can I at least apologize?

No! Simply saying those words to the other driver can be seen as an admittance of fault. The other driver’s insurance company will do everything they can to get you to admit fault, don’t help them by saying how sorry you are to the other driver. Again, even if you think you were in the wrong, you never really know. You can explain the facts that you know about the accident: direction, roads, time of day, etc. But you should never admit fault. Consult with a Yakima car accident attorney before interacting with any other party.

Are their varying types of fault that can be determined?

Yes. In some cases.

Comparative Negligence: This refers to your percentage of fault compared to the other party’s. With comparative negligence, you’re allowed to seek compensation even if you’re partially at-fault.

Modified Comparative Negligence: This limits your ability to file a claim through the other driver’s insurance company. In some states, you can only recover your losses if you’re found to be less than 50% at-fault.

Pure Contributory Negligence: This is an all-or-nothing way of determining fault. Even if you were only a small portion of at-fault, you wouldn’t be compensated for anything. You have to be completely blameless for the accident. Short from having your car hit by another vehicle while it was legally parked, pure contributory negligence is difficult to achieve.

Will it affect my insurance if I was at-fault?

Your insurance rates won’t automatically rise if you were found to be at-fault. Your insurance company will look your previous driving record and all the elements and circumstances that caused the accident. After they looked at everything, they will then decide whether or not your rates will increase.

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