At-fault v Not at Fault Motor Vehicle Repair Claims

Motor Vehicle Repair Claims – At-Fault v Not at Fault

After an incident on the road, you’re often left wondering about the possible ramifications. If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle incident, depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible to claim compensation for a range of different things, such as the damage to your vehicle.

But what’s the difference between an at-fault, and not-at-fault scenario? The differences will impact how to claim and who is liable to pay for the damage.


At-Fault v Not at Fault: Determining Liability

Understanding motor vehicle incident liability can be tricky, but it can make a big difference when it comes to making a claim. Unless one party openly admits fault, the key to proving who was at fault is evidence. Several things can assist in determining this:

A Police Report

Police don’t always attend the scene of an incident, but if they do, they may test the drivers to discover whether they were under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In the report, information may also include interviews with everyone involved, including witnesses, detailing what occurred before, during, and after the incident. All of this can be used as evidence to determine liability.

One Party Negligence

In this case, there is sufficient evidence to prove another person was at fault. Scenarios of one party negligence could include a person being convicted of a criminal offence such as driving under the influence or driving recklessly. Speeding, failing to stop at a red light, and rear-end collisions are all examples of reckless activity.

Contributory Negligence

Occasionally it can be difficult to prove that one party was entirely at fault. In these cases, the cost of the incident may be shared between multiple parties according to their degree of responsibility. For example, if two drivers in a car park reverse into each other whilst exiting their car space, they may both be found to be partly at fault.

It can be tricky to work out who is at fault, so regardless of the scenario, it’s important to compile as much evidence as possible for your claim. Information you should gather at the scene of the incident include:

  • Contact details of everyone involved (name, address, phone number)
  • Driver license and car registration details of all drivers and vehicles involved
  • Insurance company details
  • Car manufacturer, model, and colour
  • Location of the incident
  • Photos of all cars and number plates involved, with specific detail given to all instances of damage
  • Weather conditions (as this might play a part in your claim)
  • Police report number (if there is one)
  • Contact details of any witnesses
  • Details of the tow truck company (if it was needed)

At Fault Motor Vehicle Claims

When it comes to at fault incidents, there are two scenarios you could find yourself in:

  • The incident was entirely your fault (one party negligence)
  • The incident was partly your fault (contributory negligence)

If the incident was entirely your fault, you should lodge your claim with your insurer, and they will settle the claim with the other party’s insurer. However, if the other party is not insured, your insurance provider will directly settle the claim with the person involved in the incident. In this scenario, you may be required to pay the applicable excess, and in some cases, your no claim discount will be reduced upon the renewal of your policy.

In the event the incident was contributory negligence and multiple parties share fault, evidence will be crucial to determining who is most at fault. Typically, your provider will negotiate with the other party’s provider to determine a mutually agreeable percentage of fault split. Just like in the case of one party negligence, you’ll be required to pay the applicable excess, and in some cases, your no claim discount will be reduced upon renewal of your policy.


Not at Fault: Motor Vehicle Claims

If you’re not at fault, gather as much evidence related to the incident as possible and lodge a claim with your insurance provider. If you have comprehensive insurance, your provider will typically handle all communications with the other party, and you may be entitled to a replacement car while you settle the claim.

In some cases, the other party will dispute the allegation that they caused the incident. In this instance, your insurance provider will try to resolve the dispute on your behalf. The majority of contested claims are settled out of court but on the off chance the claim does go to court, you may be required to testify, at no expense to yourself.

Of course, it’s best to share as much evidence as you can with your insurer.

You will usually not be required to pay any excess if there is sufficient evidence to prove the other party’s complete responsibility for the incident, and you have all the at-fault party’s necessary contact details and vehicle information. Additionally, if it is deemed the incident was not your fault, your no claim discount will not be affected.

If you are uninsured, you will need to pursue your claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer. If they also don’t have insurance, you will need to try to settle the matter directly with the at-fault party. Ideally you will be able to reach a reasonable outcome but if you can’t, you may need to take legal action against them. In this situation it’s best to obtain legal advice from a lawyer or community legal centre about the best approach.


In Summary

Whilst we all do our best to stay safe on the roads, accidents do happen. It’s best to be prepared for the worst, to ensure the ramifications are minimal and the process of making a claim is as painless as possible.

Claims made easier.
Claims resolved faster.