Was the Car Accident Your Fault? Don’t Panic

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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First, don’t be so sure that the accident is all your fault. Many accidents result from events people consider to be their fault, but really are not. For example, suppose your car suddenly ran off the road on a curve when you were at or near the speed limit. You feel badly as you recognize, in hindsight, that you should have slowed down further. Yet if you were driving a Chevrolet Corvair—the car Ralph Nader demonstrated was “unsafe at any speed”—there was a design defect that was responsible for numerous accidents. A lawyer can often help you assess the facts and determine whether it was your fault or if someone else at least shares some of the responsibility.

A second consideration is that even if the accident was entirely your fault, it is possible that someone else is responsible for the extent and severity of the resulting injuries. For example, it may have been your fault that you got into an accident with your pickup truck, but because the gas tank was in an unsafe place and broke during impact, it may have turned a minor fender bender into a major catastrophe. Or perhaps your local emergency room sent you home without telling you the danger signs you should be aware of, or perhaps your HMO wouldn’t authorize the tests your doctor felt should have been performed, and your injuries worsened as a result. Again, an attorney can help you evaluate these matters. Visit Do You Need to Contact an Attorney After a Car Accident? for more.

Third, if anyone else was injured, or any one else’s property was damaged in the accident, you may be fully or partly responsible for the injuries, at least to the extent that they will not be covered by your insurance company. A lawyer can help make sure your insurance company stands by you, and may be able to help you protect your rights and assets.

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