How to Dispute a Car Accident Fault
In most US states, car insurance companies assign “fault” to at least one party involved in an auto accident.1
After an at-fault accident, car insurance rates go up by 48%, on average.2 And, while this increase is typically temporary, you could be tolerating a rate hike for anywhere between three and five years.
Unfortunately, it’s possible that you may be blamed for an auto accident even if you weren’t actually at fault. If this happens to you, how do you dispute an at-fault accident?
Disputing an at-fault car accident is often challenging and, without help from experienced car accident lawyers, expensive. In this guide, we’ll teach you how to dispute a car accident fault the right way. Our step-by-step process could help save you thousands in auto insurance rate hikes if you’re blamed for an accident that’s not your fault.
#1 Reach Out to an Attorney
Throughout the dispute process, you’ll have to communicate and negotiate with insurance companies (both your own insurer and other parties’ insurers).
Major insurers are always lawyered up. Insurance companies have always had on-staff attorneys to handle legal matters—but, in the last decade, insurance companies have been hiring lawyers in droves to be claims adjusters, too.3 The American Bar Association estimated that, as early as 2013, one-quarter to one-third of all insurance adjusters had legal qualifications.
Simply put, if you’re trying to dispute an at-fault accident, be prepared to tangle with numerous attorneys. If you aren’t in the legal profession yourself (or if insurance law isn’t your specialty), one of the most effective ways to protect yourself during this process is to hire a car accident lawyer or personal injury (PI) lawyer.
A PI lawyer will:
- Liaise with your and other parties’ insurance companies on your behalf
- Help you file an opposing claim with other parties’ insurance companies
- Gather and submit evidence supporting your position
- Document your case, contact insurance regulation agencies, and provide support as needed
When it comes to fights with auto insurance companies, you need someone strong in your corner—like a seasoned PI attorney. If you’re wondering when to get an attorney for a car accident, you can hire one from the beginning to ensure the claim process goes smoothly.
#2 File a Claim
We recommend retaining an attorney before taking any more steps, but if you decide to dispute an at-fault accident yourself, the next step is to file a car accident claim with your insurance company. You can file one of two kinds of claims:
- Personal injury (if you were injured during the accident)
- Property damage (if your vehicle was damaged during the accident)
If both are relevant to you, your car accident claim can cover both types of damages.
Keep in mind that, if you’ve already been labeled as the at-fault party, you’re likely to encounter some pushback from the other party’s insurer. There are a few important ways you can protect yourself during this process (which are essential if you choose not to partner with an attorney):
- Send an email or a letter instead of making a phone call
- Keep copies of the evidence you submit
- Record your calls if you need to speak over the phone
- Communicate only with other parties’ insurance companies—not with other drivers
- Ask about insurers’ confidentiality policies to protect your personal information
#3 Dispute Your Insurance Company’s Findings (And Submit Evidence)
After filing a claim with the other parties’ insurance companies, it’s time to start working with your own insurer. You’ll need to dispute their determination that you’re the at-fault driver.
Here are the steps you should expect to take when disputing fault with your insurance:
- Dispute any traffic violations you received in your jurisdiction, if applicable
- Gather and submit evidence that supports your position
- Conduct a phone interview with an adjuster or their legal team about the accident
- Follow up if the insurance company drags its feet
A PI attorney is a particularly helpful partner for this phase of the dispute process. While it’s simple enough to file a claim against the other parties’ insurance policies, opposing a judgment that your insurance company has already made is a completely different matter.
# 4 Contact an Insurance Regulatory Agency
If the steps above don’t provide the resolution you’re looking for, one last-ditch option is to contact an insurance regulatory body. You should contact both:
- A third-party regulator, like the National Association of Insurance Commissioners4
- Your state’s insurance regulation department
These agencies may be able to support you if you have difficulty overturning your own insurance company’s decision or obtaining the financial compensation you need to recover from the accident.
Need an Attorney?
Learning how to dispute a car accident fault can be intimidating. During the process, you should expect long, tedious correspondence with both your own insurer and other parties’ insurers—and perhaps even the regulatory body that oversees your insurance company.
Hiring an attorney will make the dispute process significantly easier on your part. But, not all personal injury lawyers are created equal. That's why Mighty's compiled a list of trusted attorneys that can help guide you through this process. Head to our Accident Attorney Directory to find a trusted attorney in your area today.
- Policy Genius. What Does No-Fault State Mean?. https://www.policygenius.com/auto-insurance/states-with-no-fault-insurance/
- WalletHub. What Happens If I’m At Fault in a Car Accident?. https://wallethub.com/answers/ci/what-happens-if-you-are-at-fault-in-a-car-accident-2140693829/
- American Bar Association Journal. Insurers Are Hiring Lawyers, With an Eye on Privilege. https://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/insurers_are_hiring_lawyers_with_an_eye_on_privilege
- NAIC. What You Should Know About Filing an Auto Claim. https://content.naic.org/article/what-you-should-know-about-filing-auto-claim
Written ByLuke Krolak
Client Operations Lead
About the author
Luke is a warm-hearted and highly skilled legal operations expert with an impressive 8-year track record in the personal injury field. As the Client Operations Lead at Mighty, he is dedicated to providing exceptional support, transparent communication, and genuine empathy to clients during their challenging journey. His expertise in streamlining processes and implementing cutting-edge technology makes him an indispensable ally for clients, case managers, and attorneys in their pursuit of justice.
About the reviewer