Why Car Insurers May Wrongly Assign Fault to the Victim
Car crashes are usually the result of negligent driving. Many accidents are caused by speeding, distracted driving, violating another driver’s right of way or tailgating.
Car insurers know this, but they often blame crash victims for things that are unrelated to the cause of the collision. Below, we discuss when car insurers may have wrongly assigned fault to the victim of a crash.
Our Minneapolis-based car crash lawyers have many years of combined experience dealing with insurance companies. We know the tactics they use to try to devalue or deny claims. We also know how to aggressively pursue the full compensation crash victims need.
Minnesota’s Comparative Fault Law
Even though Minnesota is a no-fault state, fault is always an issue during a car crash claim. The at-fault driver’s insurance company has an incentive to minimize its liability for your damages.
If the insurance company can prove the victim shares some blame, they can devalue his or her claim under Minnesota’s comparative negligence law. This law says the value of the victim’s claim is reduced based on his or her percentage of fault for the crash.
For example, if you are found to be 10 percent at fault, the value of your claim could be reduced by 10 percent. If your percentage of fault is greater than the at-fault driver’s percentage of fault, you are barred from recovering any compensation no matter how injured you are.
Reasons Insurers May Give for Assigning Fault
There are various reasons car insurance companies may assign fault to crash victims, including:
- Distracted driving (texting and driving, not paying attention to the road, etc.)
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Drowsy driving or falling asleep at the wheel
- Disobeying a traffic signal or stop sign
These are legitimate reasons to assign fault to a victim. The insurance company would need to provide evidence to prove the victim was engaged in some form of negligent driving.
However, insurance companies may assign fault for other reasons, such as:
Your License Plate Was Expired
It is certainly negligent to drive with an expired license plate, and you can be fined for failing to renew your registration before the deadline. However, your expired license plate is unrelated to what caused the crash to happen.
If the insurance company tries to use this as an excuse to deny or devalue your claim, you should contact an attorney for assistance.
You Received a Traffic Citation for Something Unrelated to the Crash
Traffic citations can impact car crash claims. However, it all depends on what the citation was for. If you were rear-ended and one of your taillights was not working, that may be a reason to deny or at least devalue your claim.
If you were cited for an expired license plate or expired license, it should not affect the value of your claim. Even in a first-party claim, your expired license may not matter, unless your policy says coverage is voided if you have an expired license. However, in most cases, all that matters is if you had a valid license at the time that you bought or renewed your policy.
You Were Not Wearing a Seat Belt
Minnesota law prohibits the use of evidence of not wearing a seat belt in a personal injury case. That means not wearing a seat belt cannot be used against you to assign fault for the crash.
It could certainly be argued that not wearing a seat belt made your injuries worse. Studies have shown that wearing seat belts can dramatically reduce the risk of death or severe injury in a crash. However, the central issue is what caused the crash. The decision to not wear a seatbelt is unrelated to what caused the crash.
It is important to take what the insurance company says with a grain of salt. They have an interest in assigning fault to you because it may reduce the value of your claim. That means less money out of their pocket. Unfortunately, that may also mean less money in your pocket.
If the insurance company makes claims about your role in the crash, you should discuss those claims with a licensed attorney. Unlike the insurance company, the attorneys at our firm are committed to your best interests.
TSR Injury Law is Ready to Help. Contact Us for Assistance
For more than two decades, the attorneys at TSR Injury Law have been helping those injured in motor vehicle crashes. We have vast experience negotiating with insurance companies and are prepared to go to trial if necessary to secure the compensation our clients need.
An initial legal consultation is free of charge, and there is no obligation to take legal action after this meeting. If you decide to hire our firm, there are no upfront fees. That means working with us does not come with financial risk.
Call us today to learn more: (612) TSR-TIME