An accident liability dispute occurs when an insurance company denies that their policyholder is at-fault or partially at-fault for an accident, often a car accident or premises liability claim, and instead blames you for the accident. Resolving a dispute in your favor can mean the difference between getting fair compensation for your injuries or nothing at all. If you're involved in an accident liability dispute, you should highly consider hiring a personal injury lawyer to protect your rights and ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
Why is the insurance company disputing liability?
Insurance companies are in business to maximize their profits and minimize claims. One of the ways in which they do this is by outright denying a claim or they can devalue a claim’s legitimate worth. Many people may be surprised to learn it's possible to be partially at-fault for an accident which reduces the amount of your settlement offer leaving you responsible for most of your damages.
How do insurance companies determine fault?
As a matter of course, most insurers will assign an investigator or adjuster to your case who will examine evidence to determine liability. For cases involving serious injury or high claim amounts, insurance companies may investigate the claim in a variety of ways which can feel intimidating and cause anxiety about how the investigation works. Keep in mind that the investigation could be far-reaching and include witness statements, public records, social media accounts -- all are fair game for an insurance adjuster.
Why is it important to dispute liability?
No matter what an insurance adjuster may say, you have a right to dispute liability or reject a settlement offer from the insurance company. Accepting an offer will require you to give you important rights, including the ability to file a lawsuit for your injuries. That is why it is so important to understand the full value of your claim and to know that you can and should reject any offer that doesn’t fairly compensate you for your losses.
Insurance companies will offer you no money if they find you to be 100% at fault and only a fraction of what your claim is worth if you are determined to be partly at fault. For example, under New Jersey's insurance law, the amount of damages you can receive are reduced by the percentage that you are at fault. For example, if you were considered 10% at fault and your damage was $10,000, you could receive $9000 from the other driver's insurance company.
I thought New Jersey was a no-fault insurance state. Why does liability matter?
In many instances, because New Jersey is a no-fault car insurance state, fault may not matter in a car accident claim, especially for a minor or even moderate accident. However, if you’ve been seriously injured or the other driver was negligent, you may have the right to sue the at-fault driver or entity for pain and suffering and injuries over a certain threshold.
For instance, on a Standard policy, with the unlimited right to sue, you have no limitation on filing a lawsuit to pursue compensation for pain and suffering from an at-fault driver. With the limited right to sue option or on a Basic policy, you cannot file a lawsuit for pain and suffering unless you suffer one of the following injuries:
- Significant scarring or disfigurement
- Loss of body part
- Displaced fracture
- Loss of fetus
- Permanent injury, which occurs when a body part or organ will not heal and function normally with more medical treatment
Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
If you’re in an accident liability dispute, hiring an experienced personal injury attorney can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. Why risk being unfairly compensated and not having recourse to fix it? When you hire a personal injury lawyer from our team, you pay nothing upfront. We work on contingent fees that are only collected if we win your case. If we don’t win, you don’t pay.
Contact Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney, at Law, for a free consultation. With our proven track record of success and our commitment to client care, we can turn your setback into a comeback.