Getting into a car accident is a horrible, often traumatic, experience. You don’t plan for it, but there’s a lot to do once it’s happened. 

You’ll need to call the police and request a copy of the report they fill out. You’ll exchange driver’s license and insurance information with the other driver(s) involved in the crash. You’ll need to seek medical attention to assess whether you have injuries. It’s a lot to handle right after a traumatic experience.

But after all that is over, there’s still more to do. What you need to do depends on whose fault it was. Of course, if you caused the accident, you’ll need to report it to your insurance company. 

But what if you’re the victim? What if you didn’t cause the accident? Do you still need to report the car accident to your insurance company? That’s the question we’re answering in today’s blog.

The truth is, the answer is complicated. The rules for your state determine what actions you’ll take regardless of whether the accident was your fault. States are divided into at-fault and no-fault states. There are specific rules for each type of fault. Let’s look at the differences between at-fault and no-fault states and how these states work.

At-Fault States

Living in an at-fault state makes the at-fault driver responsible for the other person’s vehicle repairs and injuries. But it isn’t always black and white. Sometimes, both drivers are partially responsible for the accident. Both drivers’ insurance companies will work together to determine who is at fault. 

Who Is At Fault?

Often, percentages determine the fault. For example, say you were a little at fault, but the other driver was more at fault than you. The insurance company might assign 70/30 responsibility, meaning that you were 30% responsible for the accident. 

In this case, you’ll pay for 30% of the other driver’s repairs and injuries. Their 70% responsibility means they’ll cover 70% of your repairs and injuries. Your insurance companies will cover those fees. 

Of course, the more money they spend covering your accident, the more they’ll charge you to continue covering you. Switching insurance companies won’t resolve the problem, either. Usually, a new insurance company will charge you even more because they see you as a liability. Having insurance is necessary to drive a car, but it’s not fun when you get into an accident.

If You Weren’t At Fault

If you weren’t at fault for the accident, you don’t need to call your insurance company. For example, say you were making a left-hand turn and had a protected green arrow. But then the other driver T-boned you in the middle of the intersection as they ran through their red light. You were clearly not at fault for that accident.

Do I Call My Insurance?

Remember, whether you need to call your insurance company in an at-fault state is entirely dependent on whether you were at fault in the accident. The other driver will often contact your insurance company to report the accident if they think you were responsible. The less responsibility they have, the less they pay. 

Your insurance company will then investigate the accident and determine whether you had any fault. If you didn’t, your insurance premium wouldn’t go up. 

No-Fault States

No-fault car accident states work very differently. It doesn’t matter who was at fault. If you’re in an accident, you’ll file a claim with your insurance company, and they’ll pay for the cost of your repair and any injuries you may have, to an extent. 

Your policy will determine how much your insurance company will pay. Car insurance companies in no-fault states protect themselves by requiring certain coverage levels for everyone they insure. The bad news is that the repairs or injuries that exceed your coverage will come out of your pocket unless you qualify for a type of comparative negligence.

Comparative Negligence

There are different kinds of comparative negligence. Which one applies to you depends on the state in which you live.

Pure Comparative Negligence

Pure comparative negligence means that you are entitled to compensation, even if it’s only a tiny percentage. If you were responsible for 90% of the accident, you’re entitled to 10% of your repair costs covered by the other driver’s insurance company.

Modified Comparative Negligence

This kind of comparative negligence isn’t as broad. If you were responsible for the accident above a certain percentage, you aren’t eligible for any compensation. That percentage depends on your state’s laws.

Slight/Gross Negligence

Instead of working with percentages, this law uses “slight” negligence and “gross” negligence to determine if you receive compensation for the accident. If you were only slightly at fault, you’d be compensated. But if you were grossly negligent, you won’t receive anything. Again, your state law will determine what constitutes slight vs. gross negligence.

Are you unsure of whether your state is at-fault or no-fault? We recommend calling your insurance company or looking at your policy in close detail. Not only does each state have its own laws, but they change over time, and insurance companies adjust their policies accordingly.

Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton

Were you in a car accident? The attorneys at Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton have worked hard for over 25 years to help individuals just like you. We understand the trauma and pain that often come with car accidents.
Let us take the burden off you by helping you resolve your car accident claims. If you were injured in an accident, you might be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering. We’ll fight for you to get you everything you deserve.
If you’ve been in a car accident and don’t know what to do, call Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton. We serve the greater Salt Lake and Provo county areas. We provide free case evaluations and would be happy to work with you. Contact us today!