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Car Accident Information Center

Understand Who's At Fault In A Car Accident

Being in a car accident is a stressful and scary experience. On top of that, being in a car accident can be confusing to understand who is at fault in a car accident for the damages or injuries that may have occurred.

You may feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to proceed, but understanding the laws surrounding car accidents will help you make informed decisions about your rights. Let's explore this further.

What Does "fault" Mean In A Car Accident?

rear end car collision

As someone who has been in a car accident, I'm sure you want to know what exactly "fault" means when we talk about car accidents.

Fault in a car accident means that an individual in the car accident bears responsibility for any costs tied to the accident, whether it's property damage or personal injury. As such, car accident fault can be determined by different legal standards like negligence and carelessness when looking at a car crash case.

Even if you have a 49% allocation and the other driver has a 51% allocation, the other driver may still be at fault. This percentage represents the expected amount of compensation the insurance company will pay.

Understanding fault in a car accident is essential in deciding how to move forward after an auto accident and who is legally responsible for paying out any associated bills.

Determining Who Is At Fault In A Car Accident

Gathering Evidence

To determine who is at fault in a car accident, it is the most important to gather sufficient evidence. This involves taking witness statements, reviewing traffic camera footage, and obtaining a police report. To begin the process of determining fault, all the vital evidence should be collected and analyzed.

Analyzing Witness Statements

Witness statements are important evidence when determining fault in a car accident. It is helpful to have as many accounts from credible witnesses as possible; each individual may have seen something from a different perspective or have noticed some detail that was left out of other witness reports.

After all the witness statements have been collected, it is important to analyze them for any similarities or discrepancies between what was reported by different individuals.

Examining Traffic Camera Footage

Traffic camera footage can provide an unbiased view of what happened during the accident.

By studying the footage carefully, the speed of both vehicles at the time of impact can be determined, giving insight into who was at fault.

When looking over the footage, it's also important to consider whether either driver had broken any traffic laws prior to the collision.

If either party did not obey traffic laws, they might be liable for their negligence.

Obtaining Police Reports

The police report issued after an investigation will include a lot of information, such as both drivers' contact information, insurance details, and descriptions of any property damage or injuries resulting from the accident.

The officer involved in writing up the report will likely have taken measurements on-site and spoken with witnesses to gather an accurate representation of what occurred up to and during the incident.

Your Evidence

Write down your own notes right after an accident. Your documents can help your case in more ways than you think. Also, you should:

  • Try to take photos of the accident place.

  • Draw sketches showing where the cars were, traffic lights, and any other important things that might have caused the accident.

  • Let the police do their jobs while at the scene, but you can also write down what you know about what happened.

  • Write down what happened at the scene of the accident, who was at fault, and how much damage you have.

  • Write down the driver names and phone numbers of everyone involved, including any witnesses.

  • Ask the other driver or drivers for their licenses and proof of insurance.

  • Be sure to write down the make and model of each car.

Car Insurance Company

First, it's important to understand that car insurance companies will generally follow state laws when it comes to determining fault. In most states, this means applying the principle of "negligence," which is a legal term that refers to the failure to act with the level of care that a reasonable person would exercise in similar circumstances.

If one driver is found to be negligent, they are typically deemed at fault.

So, how do insurance companies determine negligence? Here are a few common factors they may consider:

  1. Traffic laws: If one driver was breaking a traffic law at the time of the accident, they might be considered negligent. This could include running a red light, speeding or failing to yield the right of way.

  2. Evidence: car insurance companies will often gather evidence to help determine fault. This could include witness statements, police reports, and photos or videos of the accident.

  3. Expert testimony: In some cases, insurance companies may hire experts to review the evidence and provide their opinion on fault. This could include accident reconstruction specialists or engineering experts.

  4. Comparative fault: Some states follow the principle of "comparative fault," which means that fault can be apportioned between the drivers involved in the accident.

For example, if one driver was texting while driving and the other was speeding, they may be found partially at fault.

Ultimately, the goal of determining fault is to assign responsibility for the accident and determine who should pay for any damages or injuries.

man holding neck after car crash

Admission of Fault

The other way to figure out who is at fault is easy. If you apologize to the other driver, you admit you were at fault. Even if you weren't at fault, the other driver could use this against you if they tried to say you were.

It's natural to say sorry for things you didn't do, so it's easy to say sorry after an accident. You might say "sorry" to someone who runs into you in the store because they weren't paying attention because it's a natural response and seems like a nice thing to say.

Never say you were at fault after an accident. Don't say you're sorry, and don't talk to the person who caused the accident unless you need to check on them or see if they need anything. You can also find out who they are and their insurance, but you should never talk to them if you can help it.

Determining Negligence

Determining negligence in an automobile collision is to analyze which party acted negligently before or during the crash. Negligence occurs when someone acts unreasonably and causes harm or injury to another person.

Factors that must be considered include whether either driver failed to obey traffic laws, drove recklessly, or displayed distracted driving behaviors such as texting.

It may be important to think if either driver was under the influence of drugs and whether either driver was impaired in any way, such as from fatigue or illness.

In some cases, both drivers may have been acting negligently, but one driver's negligence was more severe than the other's; this severity will help determine who is mostly at fault for causing the accident.

For example, a driver who failed to yield at a stop sign may be less negligent than a driver who ran a red light without slowing down first; thus making the red-light runner more responsible for causing the accident than their counterpart.

Other Ways to Figure Out Who's at Fault

If the accident wasn't a rear-end collision, figuring out who was at fault can be harder. In this case, it might help to look at the state's driving laws and where the accident happened for guidance.

If the accident occurred when one car turned left, check to see if the lights were green for one driver. If so, the driver who ignored the signal may be to blame for the accident. Similarly, a driver who was speeding is more likely to be blamed for an accident.

But When Fault Is Unclear

In some rare cases, neither the drivers, the police, nor the insurance companies can figure out who was at fault. In these situations, you can do a few things. Some drivers choose to settle fault through arbitration instead of going to court. A neutral person decides how much each driver is to blame.

Side impact accident involving 2 cars.Some drivers sue and go to small claims court to get money for their vehicle damage. In Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., drivers who are even 1 or 2% to blame for an accident may need help to get money from the other driver.

In most other states, you can sue the other driver for some of the damage, but you may also have to pay for your part.

What Is A No-fault Car Accident?

A no-fault car accident is an incident where neither driver is legally responsible for the damage caused, even if one of them caused the accident.

This type of situation often occurs when there are unforeseen circumstances, such as a deer entering the roadway and causing a driver to swerve.

It can also occur if drivers react negligently and fail to take evasive action. Despite appearances, no-fault car accidents are more common than you think.

Suppose you're unfortunate enough to find yourself involved in one. In that case, you must remain calm and contact your insurance provider to explain the situation in full detail.

What To Do If You Disagree With The Determination Of Fault

If you disagree with a determination of fault in an auto accident, there are several steps that you can take to resolve the situation. It is important to understand why you disagree with the determination of fault.

Seeking the advice of a lawyer.

The first step is to seek legal advice from an experienced car accident lawyer who understands auto accident law and vehicle damage. That's why contacting us is important and our special car accident attorney can guide you in what steps you should take to challenge or dispute a fault finding in an insurance claim. This could include filing a formal appeal with your insurance company or filing a lawsuit if necessary.

Filing an appeal with your insurance company

In filing an appeal, it's important to gather all relevant evidence to support your claims, such as eyewitness testimony, photographs and videos taken at the scene of the accident, police reports, and medical records showing any injuries sustained in the crash.

Having detailed documentation will help strengthen your case when contesting a finding of fault in an insurance claim. It's also important to review your policy documents carefully to understand exactly what coverage applies and how liability is determined under your particular policy.

Call an Attorney

Are you struggling to determine fault after a car accident? Don't stress - we can help.

At The Injury Firm, Our team of experienced attorneys offers free consultations to clients when they first come to our office. Whether you want us to investigate the accident and find fault in the other driver's behavior or you're considering filing a lawsuit, we're here to help.

We've been handling cases like yours for years, and we know how to navigate the legal system to get you the best possible results. If you're the victim of a car accident and have questions or need legal advice, don't hesitate to call us. We'll be happy to help.


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