Can Both Parties Be at Fault in a Car Accident?

Last Updated on August 24, 2020

When you get into a car accident with another driver, your car insurance will take steps to determine who is at fault in the accident. Typically, the party who is deemed responsible uses their liability insurance to cover the other party’s car repairs and medical bills. However, determining fault in a car accident isn’t always black and white. There are many instances where more than one party is at fault for an accident. There are instances where the fault is shared. Here’s what you need to know about multi-party accidents, how insurance companies define fault, and what happens if both parties are at fault.

Can Both Parties Be at Fault in a Car Accident?

How Does Partial Fault Work?

In most states, both parties can be found at fault for a car accident. Both parties’ insurance companies will examine the evidence and reports after the accident and will work together to assign a percentage of fault to each party. For example, it may be determined that one party is 70 percent at fault and the other party is 30 percent at fault. Each party will then receive the opposite percentage of the final insurance payout. For example, if you were determined to be 30 percent at fault for the accident, you will receive 70 percent of the final payout, and vice versa. However, in some states, you will not be eligible to receive a payout if you are found to be more than 50 percent at fault for the accident.

It’s very common for both parties to be found equally at fault, which means both parties can collect a payout. In this case, the payout is usually half of the amount of the damages for each party. However, it’s very common for both insurance companies to negotiate back and forth to settle on an appropriate amount for both parties. This is often done by calculating the total cost of the accident for both parties and then using multipliers to determine a final amount.

What Happens in the No-Fault States?

Car insurance law is different in every state, and there are some states that are considered ‘no-fault’ states. This means that in a car accident, the other party is not usually responsible for paying for accident-related damages. Your insurance company has to pay for your own damages, regardless of fault.

No-fault states do not allow you to sue the other party in a car accident either. In these states, drivers are required to buy personal injury protection coverage, which will pay for your damages instead of the other party’s damages. Your insurance company will still try to determine who is at fault in the accident, but it likely won’t affect your payout.

What If I Don’t Agree With the Insurance Company’s Decision?

You may find that you don’t agree with your insurance company once they’ve made the decision about who is at fault for the accident. If you are unhappy with their conclusion, you can contest it, but it’s best to do this with help from a lawyer. You’ll want to find a local lawyer who has experience in car insurance and has worked on similar cases. They will assess the accident, help you gather evidence, and build a case to help you get a higher payout. However, if you’re considering hiring a lawyer, you’ll want to think about the overall financial benefit. Contesting your insurance company’s decision is typically only worth it if the payout is significantly more than your legal fees.

What Should I Do After an Accident With Another Party?

After you get into an accident, you might feel at a bit of a loss for what to do. Start by taking a deep breath and checking for injuries. If anyone in your car needs medical attention, call 911 right away. If no one is injured, you’ll still want to call the police, since you’ll need to file a police report later on. Your police report will become part of your insurance claim later on.

Once you feel comfortable stepping out of the car, take as many pictures as possible with your phone. Get photos of the scene from many different angles to provide a complete picture of what happened. Put on your hazard lights and do everything you can to maintain the area until the police get there. If there are any witnesses around, ask if they would be willing to provide an account of the accident later on, and get their contact information. Finally, you’ll want to exchange insurance information with the other party in the accident, as well as basic contact information. If a police officer arrives on the scene, they can help facilitate this process to avoid a tense situation.

After you’ve arrived home and attended to any pressing medical concerns, you’ll want to report the accident to your insurance company. The sooner you make them aware of it, the faster they can address the issue. As you get your car repaired and seek ongoing medical treatment, be sure to keep as much documentation as possible. Detailed documents of what happened during the accident will help you get the payout you deserve.

Final Word – Can Both Parties Be At Fault for an Accident?

Determining who is at fault in an accident is so difficult, and it becomes more complicated when both parties contributed to the event. If you’re both found at fault in an accident, there’s a good chance you’re both eligible for a payout. Be sure to work closely with your insurance company and ask questions about any discrepancies you may find. Good communication is one of the best ways to make sure that both parties are compensated fairly for the accident.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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