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Work out who is responsible for causing the accident. The person who caused the accident is liable to pay for the damage.
If you caused the accident, you or your insurance company should pay for the damage to your vehicle and the other person’s vehicle. If the other driver caused the accident, they or their insurance company should pay.
If you think someone other than a driver or something else caused the accident (for example, a pedestrian or a dog running across the road), you should get legal advice about how to recover your costs. This guide only deals with accidents caused by one or both drivers.
If you have comprehensive insurance or third-party property insurance, you should notify your insurance company immediately. The insurance company will handle all the negotiations with the other driver.
If both drivers were partly responsible for causing the accident, they should each pay for the portion of the damage they caused. For example, if there is an accident in which one driver fails to give way and the other driver is speeding, both drivers’ actions have contributed to causing the accident and the damage.
‘Contributory negligence’ is the term used when more than one person causes an accident. Let’s say driver Andrew Smith is 20 percent responsible and driver Anne Cremer is 80 percent responsible for causing the accident, and the cost of the damage to Andrew Smith’s car is $5000 and the cost of the damage to Anne Cremer’s car is $10,000.
The claims the drivers would have against each other are:
Therefore, they would settle the claim by Anne Cremer paying Andrew Smith the net amount of $2000 ($4000 – $2000 = $2000).
The two drivers can try to work out the percentage of responsibility for the accident, or if the case goes to court, the court can decide it. In most situations, it is better for everyone involved in the accident to negotiate and reach an agreement about how to pay the damage bill without going to court.
To work out the percentage of responsibility, think about your driving and the other person’s driving at the time of the accident, and ask yourself these questions:
Last updated 12 May 2021