What to Do if You Get Into a Car Accident When You’re Not at Fault

Enter your ZIP code to get started


Free. Simple. Secure.

Updated: May 20, 2024

Advertising & Editorial Disclosure

If you get into an accident, you should immediately call the authorities. A medical team can help injured parties, while police officers can create and file an official report. If no one needs immediate medical attention, exchange insurance information with the other driver and take pictures of the damages. This information can be helpful later if you have to claim insurance when you are not at fault.

Once the situation has calmed down, inform both insurers that you got into an accident. If the other party is determined to be at fault, you can start to file for a third-party insurance claim and receive compensation for damages or injuries.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

If you get into an accident and aren’t at fault, call the authorities and collect as much information as you can to make a third-party claim later.

A third-party claim is where you file a claim from an insurer that is not your own, but the provider for the other involved parties.

You may still have to file a claim with your own insurer if you are in a no-fault state or the other driver is uninsured.

Steps to Take After a Car Accident When You’re Not at Fault

Getting into a car accident can be a traumatic experience, but knowing who is at fault is vital. Identifying the at-fault party in an accident determines who bears financial responsibility, such as who needs to pay for damages or injuries, depending on where you live.

Suppose you live in a no-fault state. In that case, the driver at fault in an accident does not bear the financial responsibility, and you will pay for damages or injuries through Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. No-fault car insurance states include Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Utah.

Conversely, if you live in an at-fault state, the insurance company will determine the person at fault. This is typically based on the report from the police. Once you have been cleared of fault, you can file for a third-party insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s provider.

bookshelves icon

A third-party insurance claim is another term for when you claim from another driver’s insurance provider. Claiming insurance as a third party is done after an accident by a not-at-fault driver.

Step 1

Collect Important Information About the Accident

Immediately call 911 if you suffer any injuries in the accident. If you do not need assistance, it is best to stay calm, call the police and gather as much information about your accident as possible.

Take note of the name and address of the other driver, the other driver's insurance information and witness contact information. It is also smart to take photos of damages after it happens. This information is essential when filing a third-party insurance claim and the police ask about the incident.

Step 2

Notify the Police & Your Respective Insurance Companies

Contacting the right people as soon as possible after an accident is essential. Call the police first, as they can determine fault immediately. Keep in mind that the police may not come to the same conclusion as an insurance company.

After contacting the police, get the other driver’s insurance company and inform them about the accident. Give the police the other driver’s details and any facts you have about the incident. Contact your insurance provider, even if you weren’t at fault. This way, your insurer can help with the investigation.

Step 3

File a Third-Party Insurance Claim

If you are found not to be at fault, you can file for a third-party insurance claim. This is where you will file a claim with the other party’s insurance provider to receive compensation for damages.

Before filing a third-party insurance claim, ensure all information related to the accident is on-hand. This information can include items like photos of the incident, dashcam footage, witness contact details or a copy of the police report. Any documents or media that showcase the accident will help the provider’s investigation and claims process go faster.

Once you have all the necessary documents, call the at-fault driver’s insurance company to find out how to file a claim.

mglogo icon

It is possible to have your car repaired even prior to receiving compensation from the other driver’s insurer. However, there is still a possibility that your claim may be denied. In this case, you will have to shoulder the costs of damages and injuries entirely. To avoid this, ensure the other driver’s insurance provider has accepted liability or your claim.

When to File a Claim With Your Insurance Carrier

Depending on the situation, filing a claim with your auto insurance provider may still be necessary even if you were not at fault in an accident. For instance, if you live in a no-fault state, you will still have to file a claim through your insurance. Depending on your coverage, you may also have to file a claim if the other party is uninsured or underinsured.

If you get into an accident, you may want to seek legal counsel. Sometimes, the claims filing process does not go smoothly and can cause more stress than expected. You may not receive the proper compensation or get it on time, or you may need to prove that you are not at fault. You may also encounter a car insurance scam when a lawyer can help you determine if you can get your money back.

Will Premiums Increase When You Have a No-Fault Claim?

If you file a no-fault claim, your premiums will generally not increase as it is not your provider who will not pay for your expenses. Instead, it is the at-fault driver’s provider who will shell out compensation, and the at-fault driver will face an increase in premiums.

However, this can vary from insurer to insurer, as some may have a different rate increase scheme. To know if your premiums will increase, ask your insurer first.

Frequently Asked Questions

Knowing what to do after an accident where you are not at fault is essential to ensure you are compensated for damages or injuries. Review some of the most frequently asked questions MoneyGeek answered below.

What do I do if I get into a car accident when I’m not at fault?
Do I need to file a claim with my insurer when I’m not at fault?
What is a third-party insurance claim?
What information should I prepare for filing an insurance claim?
Who should I call when I get into an accident?
Will my insurance go up after filing a claim when I’m not at fault?

About Mark Fitzpatrick

Mark Fitzpatrick headshot