Who is At Fault? dot_grey_left dot_grey_right

Fault is a funny thing, and it can be viewed differently by different people — even when they're meant to be objective. Some accidents are more straightforward than others, but you basically need to provide proof that the other party made a mistake and didn't follow the rules of the road. There are such things as no-fault states too, where they skip the whole question of fault entirely (because, it gets really messy) and everyone is basically on their own. Otherwise, you'll need to give as much substantial proof as possible (e.g., eye witnesses) to back you up. Here are several common accidents and how to handle them.

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Rear-Ended dot_cyan_left dot_cyan_right

There's really one thing to remember for accidents: If it steers, it clears. (It's the lost nursery rhyme!) Do not stay on the road any longer than you have to. We know you're shaken up. How could you not be? Get over it for exactly two seconds, and get your car over to the shoulder or a parking lot so you don't run the risk of being hit by a different car. After that, follow the rest of the standard instructions for accidents (e.g., call the police, don't admit fault, etc.)

Parking Lots dot_orange_left dot_orange_right

Most parking lots are evil, and engineered by mad scientists who want to see just how much they can puppet master the drivers into hitting everything in sight. The rule is a thoroughfare (or a lane in a parking lot that directly connects to the street) has the right of way while feeder lanes that flow into the thoroughfares must yield. It should go without saying, but all the signage in a lot (Stop, Yield, Watch for Children Throwing Tantrums) are just as legally binding in parking lots as on the regular road. Those who are moving within a parking space must yield to those who are in the lanes behind them. If you are hit, leave the yelling for another day, get the person's contact information and then contact your insurance. You should do this whether it was your fault or not. Standard insurance coverage is the same for parking lots as on the road.

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Hydroplaning dot_cyan_left dot_cyan_right

This is particularly one of the most scary driving scenarios, with hidden puddles and black ice possibly being even more evil than parking lots. Call the police and your insurance company if you've hit someone else. If you've only damaged your car in the process, then assess the damage to see if it makes sense to call your insurance company. If you have liability only, it may not be worth jeopardizing your rates by reporting it if you are not injured and the damage is minimal. Collision insurance will cover the damages if you hit a lamppost or a guard rail, and full coverage will take care of all that plus damages to your own car.

Hitting a Deer (Bear, Elephant, etc.) dot_blue_left dot_blue_right

Before we say anything about insurance, let's establish that unless you can safely swerve out of the way, it is generally better to hit the animal than to try and action-movie your way out of it. Once you and your car are out of the way of oncoming traffic, give the police a call so they can both clear the road and document what happened. Take pictures of damage and speak to witnesses if possible. Also, check your car over thoroughly before getting back in because hooves can cause more damage than you think. Similar to hydroplaning, call insurance if you hit another car in the process, but assess the damage to your own car if you have liability insurance because you're not likely to get any assistance besides sympathy. Definitely call your insurance company if you have collision or full coverage for further consideration.

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T-Boned dot_cyan_left dot_cyan_right

Getting T-boned is a truly terrible experience, but it functions about the same way as a regular accident. There are likely to be more extenuating circumstances in the case of a T-Bone (e.g., questions of right-of-way, etc), so it's best to get as many details as possible for further clarification for insurance purposes. If it was your fault, then liability will cover the damages or injuries of the other person.

Pedestrians and Bicyclists dot_grey_left dot_grey_right

Nothing is more horrifying than this one, so the key here is not to panic. Running away will make it far worse. Get out of your car, help the pedestrian and call 911 if necessary. Call the police even if the pedestrian leaves, and document witness' testimony as well as their contact information. Take photos and call your insurance company. Don't admit fault here or apologize, even though it will be difficult to prove that you weren't at fault. The cyclist or walker would have needed to be dressed as a ninja (e.g., in all black) and illegally crossing in a dark area (or something similar) to have any hope of absolution. Generally, anyone not in a car will always have right of way. Still, just like a regular accident, you may truly come to regret any admission of fault later on.

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Speeding dot_cyan_left dot_cyan_right

Speeding is a major cause of accidents today. Now whether that's because the act of speeding is dangerous or because those who speed are inherently less cautious is really a philosophical question for another day. If you cause an accident while speeding, then you should give that information when you talk to the police. Claiming you were going the speed limit to the other driver will likely not go over well. Even if you were speeding, full coverage, collision coverage and liability coverage will still apply.

Road Rage dot_orange_left dot_orange_right

If you get into an accident because of how angry you are, then anger management courses are likely in your future. Follow the steps for any accident, and see if your insurance will cut you a break on your premiums if you agree to counseling.

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DUI dot_cyan_left dot_cyan_right

In this case, there will be substance abuse counseling for the guilty party in the case of an accident, and insurance will cover the damages up to its limits. No lectures here, but don't be an idiot.

Where Am I Most Likely to Get in an Accident? dot_blue_left dot_blue_right

Parking Lots: As previously stated, these labyrinths were indeed sent from the bowels of the underworld to destroy you. If you are in an accident, just make sure that you're out of the way of oncoming shoppers who are desperate for that last-minute sale. Then you can proceed to call the police and exchange information with the other driver.

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Rush Hour Traffic: Rush hour doesn't necessarily bring out the best in people, so you're both likely to get into an accident here and to have everyone in the world angry at you for doing so (regardless of whose fault it is.) The one benefit here is that you're probably going slower than normal speeds so the damages will be less. Signal to cars if you need to cross lanes, but get out of the way as soon as you can.

Intersections: Or the T-bone capital of your town. Intersections can get rather dicey when it comes to fault, so pay attention to what the other driver is doing to your left and right. And make sure you note any signs that indicate the times of day when certain actions are allowed (e.g., right on red, etc.)

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The Oddest Thing Happened… What if someone else is clearly in the wrong, but they insist that it's your fault? dot_cyan_left dot_cyan_right

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Some people just can't accept blame, so shrug it off. Instead of making yourself crazy by screaming at the other driver, just make sure to get the police and witnesses involved when possible so you have evidence to back you up. If this is not possible, then just make sure you stay consistent with your story and follow the proper steps at all times. The problem with insurance is that fault is not really their main concern. All they really want to do is make money, so your best bet is just keep doing the right thing regardless of what the other person is saying.

What If They Run? dot_grey_left dot_grey_right

Don't follow them no matter how frustrated you are. You've just been in an accident, and this is not the time to get into some sort of high-speed chase. You will be more likely to end up on some sort of cop reality show than achieving vigilante justice. Snap a picture of their license plate when possible, call the police and then appeal to your insurance company. Much of what happens next will depend on the state you live in because they each have different rules about uninsured motorists. However, without uninsured motorist coverage on your insurance, you may be out of luck.

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What If the Other Driver Is
Aggressive and Attacks? dot_cyan_left dot_cyan_right

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Speeding is a major cause of accidents today. Now whether that's because the act of speeding is dangerous or because those who speed are inherently less cautious is really a philosophical question for another day. If you cause an accident while speeding, then you should give that information when you talk to the police. Claiming you were going the speed limit to the other driver will likely not go over well. Even if you were speeding, full coverage, collision coverage and liability coverage will still apply.

What's covered? dot_orange_left dot_orange_right

By law your car insurance has to cover the other person if you're deemed at fault for an accident, meaning you should get familiar with the word liability pretty quickly if you don't want to be convicted as a criminal. This is the cheapest option because it only covers the other person, but can land you in hot water if you damage your own car. So you might want to consider additional coverage so you still have a means to get around should your car be stolen, vandalized or involved in a major collision.

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If you leave your $3,000 laptop in your car and it's stolen, you'll need comprehensive coverage to help you out of that mess. If your car breaks down on the side of the road because you forgot to change the oil, that's never covered under insurance. It will generally cover you if you give your friend permission to take your car and they cause an accident, but not always. Bodily injury is generally covered whether you own the car or not, but we ask that you not take that as a personal challenge.