How to Tell Who is at Fault in a Car Accident: A Helpful Guide
One in five reported crashes is the result of a distraction. That includes texting and driving instances.
Determining who is at fault in a car accident isn’t always clear cut. In many cases, you need to identify who was careless or negligent before causing the crash. In other cases, it’s easy to tell who was at fault — and therefore responsible for property damages.
Learning how to tell who is at fault in a car accident can help you receive the compensation you deserve. However, there are multiple parties involved in determining fault. For example, the law enforcement agencies who arrives at the scene, insurance companies, and courts all play a part.
How does each party determine who was at fault for a crash? Keep reading to find out!
Immediately following a car crash, you’ll need to call the police and have them file an official police report. During this step in the process, a police officer will interview all drivers involved in the crash. They might also speak to any witnesses at the scene.
The officer will ask a series of questions designed to help them gain an accurate image of what happened. Once they believe they have enough information, they’ll submit their official report to their police department.
Their report might contain a statement about who was at fault based on their professional judgment.
However, many reports don’t include a determination of fault.
Even if the report states that someone was responsible for the crash, that party isn’t automatically held legally responsible. The individual won’t become liable for damages in a lawsuit based on this police report alone.
The police officer might also issue traffic citations as part of their investigation. A citation accuses a driver of violating a traffic law. That can include exceeding the speed limit or an unlawful turn.
Road crashes are the leading cause of death among young people ages 15-29. Crashes are also the second leading cause of death worldwide among young people ages 5-14. You might also receive a citation for texting and driving, which often causes these accidents to occur among younger drivers.
The citation might indicate whether a penalty, including a fine or point dedication, was issued against the driver. Receiving a citation might also mean the driver is required to appear in traffic court. A traffic citation won’t ultimately prove who is legally responsible for a car accident in a lawsuit.
A lawyer, however, can use the citation as evidence in a lawsuit to indicate the driver was negligent.
When learning how to tell who is at fault in a car accident, you’ll need to look at the insurance company’s assessment, too.
Once a claim is filed, the insurance company will assign the claim to an adjuster. The adjuster is responsible for overseeing the investigation into the accident. They’ll also manage the insurance claim’s settlement.
Usually, there’s more than one adjuster involved in the process for a single case. Each driver’s insurance company will select a different investigator.
During their investigation, the adjuster will research the car accident by looking at the police report. They’ll also speak to witnesses, look at any medical reports, and examine vehicle damages. Their investigation will also include verifying details about the insurance policies of the drivers involved, such as coverage amounts.
The adjusters will determine who was at fault in the car accident. They might even assign a percentage of fault to each driver. Insurance companies will apportion the costs of the car accident based on this percentage.
Then, the adjuster will indemnify the drivers involved in the crash according to their insurance policy terms.
Usually, adjusters determine fault based on the legal definition of negligence in the state where the accident occurred. An individual is negligent if they fail to exercise the right amount of caution.
For example, a driver who runs through a red light is negligent if they hit a car that drove through a green light.
You might decide to file a lawsuit after a car accident to seek compensation to cover damages and injuries. The court will decide who was at fault by considering whether the defendant was negligent.
During the case, a court will consider arguments from each lawyer and study any evidence presented to them. This evidence can include testimony from the drivers involved in the crash. It can also include witness statements, statements from the police officers who reported on scenes, and testimonies from doctors.
Either a judge or jury will determine who was negligent based on this evidence. If the other driver was negligent, they’ll have to pay money to compensate you for injuries and losses.
If you were at fault, you’ll still want your health insurance to pay for your medical bills. You can read this article for more information.
Police reports and determinations of fault from the insurance companies don’t control the outcome in these court cases.
Instead, the rules of evidence prevent some evidence from being introduced in a trial. There are also different rules that govern the legal determination of responsibility. For example, precedent from prior cases in the jurisdiction for your case.
Evidence of a traffic violation, including a citation, might persuade the court the other party was at fault. This is considered negligence per se, which can help your case if you were injured because someone violated traffic laws.
If you’re still unsure about the details involving an at-fault accident, make sure to speak with an experienced lawyer. They can provide valuable legal advice and protect your rights. They’ll also make sure statements to the police and insurance companies aren’t used against you.
A qualified car accident attorney can review the details of your case and make sure you’re protected.
How to Tell Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident: Your Road to Compensation
Learning how to tell who is at fault in a car accident can make all the difference in your case. By reviewing this guide, you can prepare yourself for what’s to come.
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