Brake or swerve? When facing that choice, your brain barely has a chance to begin processing the decision. Instinct takes over. Unfortunately, whichever choice you make could result in an accident. Trying to avoid paying for the accident could prove to be just as tricky as evading the accident in the first place. If you swerve to miss hitting a car in front of you and consequently cause another car accident, you could have a tricky legal battle ahead.
Obviously, the simplest situation is if you were 100% at fault for the accident. Maybe you were tailgating the car in front of you when they came to a stop. Perhaps you didn’t notice that they had slowed down because you were distracted by something else. In these cases, the fault for swerving and causing another accident is yours and yours alone. Case closed. Although probably not in the way you would like.
However, things can get tricky when the driver you swerved to avoid was actually the one at fault for the accident. Another driver could suddenly pull onto the roadway right in front of you or drift over into your lane. Their negligent driving is responsible for causing the accident, but proving so can be difficult.
The best scenario is when the driver who was at fault for the accident pulls over.
Maybe they realized that their driving was responsible for causing the wreck, and they are an upstanding member of society, willing to take responsibility for their actions.
A more likely scenario, though, is that you weren’t able to avoid the accident with them completely by swerving, and you ended up clipping their car.
Whatever the reason, the at-fault driver stopping their vehicle is good news for you. Because they stopped, you can exchange insurance information with them. If there were any other witnesses to what happened, they can greatly help your case.
The driver whose poor driving caused you to swerve will be held responsible. Not only will they be liable for damage done to your vehicle, but for damage to any other vehicles involved in the crash, along with any injuries sustained.
When the responsible driver keeps on driving, your legal position can get much more difficult. The driver is considered a “phantom driver” because you didn’t make contact with them, and they are unknown.
The responsible driver may have driven on in an attempt not to be held liable, or they may have been oblivious to what occurred.
Either way, they are gone. If you manage to remember details about their car or their license plate number, it could help bring them to justice. However, most of us are not going to remember enough useful information from that brief moment to help track down the culprit.
In this scenario, you will really need to have other eyewitnesses if you hope to avoid being held responsible. Without an eyewitness, you will likely be held at fault for the accident. As a result, your insurance company will have to pay for any damage caused to other drivers and their vehicles. If you have full coverage, rather than just liability, your insurance will also have to pay for any damage done to your vehicle or your person.
As a result of paying for the damages, your monthly premiums are likely to jump drastically.
However, if you do have a reliable witness, you are likely to be covered by uninsured motorist coverage. With this coverage, your insurance will cover the damages to your vehicle, even if you don’t have collision coverage. The other driver(s) who were involved in the accident after you swerved will also likely receive coverage for their damages through uninsured motorist coverage.
Depending on your insurance company, your rates may not rise if you are being paid through uninsured motorist coverage, and even if they do, it should be at a far lower rate than if you had been deemed to be at fault and your coverage had been paid normally.
There are other times when you might swerve to avoid an accident and cause another, which are handled differently. There could be debris on the road that you were swerving to avoid. In this scenario, you would not be covered under uninsured motorist coverage. The reason for this is that there is no other driver at all. You are responsible because nobody else can be.
However, if the debris fell off of the back of a truck in front of you, then the driver of the truck would be liable. Although, of course, you would need witnesses. In this instance, uninsured motorist coverage would apply.
When you choose to break rather than swerve and rear-end the driver in front of you, things are completely different. In a rear-end situation, the law always defaults to the responsibility lying with the rear vehicle. Even if the driver cuts you off, you will be held responsible for the accident. Your only hope in this situation is if you have a reliable witness to the incident.
While this rule can be tough to swallow if the driver in front of you caused your accident, it can also come in handy when it comes to debris. If you brake for an object in the road, rather than swerve, and the car behind you rear-ends you, then they will be held responsible.
No matter what the situation is, when it comes to brake versus swerve scenarios, the legal challenges ahead can be very difficult. Contact an auto accident lawyer in Los Angeles to give yourself the best chance of coming away with a desirable outcome.
Even in simple cases, trying to represent yourself can prove challenging. Don’t risk a large financial setback by trying to self-advocate. Hire a professional who knows all of the tricks. A competent attorney will be able to properly navigate the fine details of your case to reach the best possible outcome.