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What happens when you’re in a car accident and not at fault?

By  AAMI

When an accident happens, the issue of car insurance liability inevitably surfaces. Often people can be quick to blame each other for causing the accident. At the end of the day, though, someone usually has to pay the costs involved, so it’s important to determine who is responsible or ‘at fault’.

If you’re involved in a car accident that isn’t your fault and the other driver doesn’t have insurance, things can get even more confusing. Here are some things to consider if you’ve been in a car accident and believe you’re not to blame.  

How do you determine who’s at fault?

First things first, it’s important to establish whether or not the other driver is actually at fault. It can be easy to assign blame and assume it’s the other driver’s responsibility to cover costs, especially if the events around the incident weren’t clear cut.

There are some situations in which you can be considered completely at fault, even if you don’t think you are.

Admitting guilt   

After a car accident, you might find yourself in shock. During this time, it’s important you don’t admit guilt in any way. In the presence of a witness, courts might consider this as an admission of liability which can be used against you. Even apologising to the other party could put you in a position where you’re considered at fault, so be cautious. After an accident occurs, politely interact with the other driver, keep things professional, and focus on simply exchanging details and taking photographs of the damage. Don’t try to engage in any emotional conversation about what happened or who might be to blame.    

Rear ended car accident

In most cases, the driver who ran into the back of the other vehicle is usually found at fault. This can be tricky, because the car in front might have slammed on their brakes suddenly, but it can often be argued that with the right amount of space left a driver should have enough time to safely brake without crashing into the vehicle in front.  

Running a red light

If an accident occurs at an intersection because a driver has run a red light, it’s likely they’ll be found to be at fault.

If you’re absolutely sure you’re not at fault, it’s best to be proactive and take stock of the scene. You might want to get witness accounts and their details, record photos of the accident and write down factors that led to the accident. This can help you build a strong case with your insurer.  

AAMI Comprehensive Car Insurance covers you for damage to your car as well as to other people’s vehicles and property. It’s an all-in-one insurance that provides the highest level of cover for your car and property, which can be especially helpful if the other driver is uninsured.

 

Explore AAMI Comprehensive Car Insurance

 

What happens if the other driver isn’t insured?

If the other driver is definitely at fault, but not insured, ensuring they pay for the damages can be a challenge. There are two potential ways you can approach the situation, depending on what you think will work best for you:

  1. Sort out the cost of the damage between yourselves. If the fault is clearly with the other party and has only caused minor damage, then you could act swiftly and approach the driver with your quote from a repair shop or mechanic. This usually requires having the other party agree to pay the repair costs upfront. This is a reasonable way to cover your car damage if both parties come to a verbal agreement.
  2. Speak to your insurer before you make a claim. If you don’t have the option of getting the other driver to pay for it, it’s usually not worth making a claim. This is because the cost of repairing the damage might be a little more than your excess claim (or even below), so it might not be worth the trouble of pursuing a claim when you’re unlikely to see any significant reimbursement on your vehicle. Remember, your insurer is best placed to work out when your excess claim applies and can advise you on what to do.

Does my level of insurance impact what I can claim?

Knowing your policy cover is important before you decide to make a car insurance claim. For example, Third Party Car Insurance will only cover the other party’s property or vehicle if you’re at fault, meaning you could be left without insurance for any damage to your vehicle.

Comprehensive Car Insurance, on the other hand, usually covers you for any type of damage to your vehicle, regardless of who’s at fault. If your insurer agrees that the accident was completely the other driver’s fault and they’re uninsured, you may be entitled to make a Third Party Property Damage claim (which may form part of your comprehensive insurance). Be sure to read your insurance policy documents to see whether damage for your vehicle is covered and that you’re able make this type of claim.

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AAMI Car Insurance, NSW and ACT CTP Insurance, and Caravan Insurance are issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 AFSL 230859 (AAI) trading as AAMI. Consider the Product Disclosure Statement before making a decision about this insurance. This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.

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