In the U.S., approximately 3 million people get injured in a car accident every year. Many of these injuries result in expensive medical bills, time off work, and long-term physical disability.
Injured victims have the right to file an auto accident claim to seek compensation for damages. Sometimes the other driver’s insurance company pays for damages. Other cases end up going to trial if there’s a dispute.
Regardless of which ways a case gets settled, determining who was at fault in the accident is essential. However, this process is often tricky.
If you’ve been in an accident, keep reading to learn all about determining who was at fault.
Fault vs No-Fault States
Before learning how to determine fault after an accident, it helps to understand your state’s laws. States are either no-fault or fault (also called tort states). This legal designation has to do with the way insurance carriers handle claims.
In no-fault states, insurance providers cover their drivers for damage and injuries regardless of who caused the wreck. This system is in place to lower the cost of auto insurance. It also helps keep accident claims out of the court system.
Fault-based states work much differently. The insurance carrier who covers the at-fault driver must pay for property damage or injuries sustained by the other driver. This means an investigation into the cause of the accident must take place.
If you live in a no-fault state, determining who caused the crash isn’t necessary. However, in fault-based states, the process can get complicated.
Evidence Gathered at the Scene
One of the most important elements in the process of determining fault is the evidence gathered at the scene. This is why it’s advised to document as much as possible if you feel the other driver was at fault.
Taking pictures of the scene is critical. Details such as tire marks, the position of the vehicles, and damage can help determine who caused the wreck.
When taking photos, it’s important to be as thorough as possible. Small details that seem irrelevant can play a crucial role in determining fault.
It’s also important to get contact information from every witness. Their testimony can help prove the other driver was at fault. This type of evidence is helpful if the other driver denies responsibility.
Finally, getting a police report is necessary. Whether you end up negotiating with the other driver’s insurance company or going to court, the report is a key piece of evidence.
How the Police Determine Fault
Any accident that results in property damage or injuries requires the involvement of the police. They’ll help secure the area and create an accident report.
The police will first interview each driver. They’ll also talk to any witnesses to the crash to get an outsider’s account of the circumstances.
If one of the drivers makes a statement that suggests they were at fault, this will go in the official police report. Anything that’s seen as an admission of fault could have a big impact on the insurance company or court’s decision.
The police may cite the at-fault driver for a traffic violation. Although this doesn’t legally prove fault, you can use it as evidence when seeking compensation.
How Insurance Companys Determine Fault
If you file an accident claim against the other driver, the insurance company gets involved. They’ll assign an adjuster to the case who will work to determine fault.
They’ll start by examining the damage to the vehicles. Then, they’ll look at the evidence of the accident scene to determine what led to the crash.
The adjuster will also speak to you, the other driver, and any witnesses. Based on their investigation, they’ll determine who they feel was at fault.
This is where things can get messy. Sometimes insurance companies claim each driver was partially responsible for the accident. This may be a way to avoid having to pay out a large settlement.
If you’re in this situation, it’s important not to agree to anything if you feel the other driver was 100% at fault. It may be time to hire a car accident lawyer so your rights aren’t violated.
An attorney will examine the details of the case to determine if the other driver was negligent.
Different Forms of Driver Negligence
When fighting for compensation in court, your attorney will have to prove that negligence on the part of the other driver caused the wreck.
There are many forms of driver negligence. Several are extremely dangerous and can lead to serious collisions.
Distracted driving is one of the most common today. If a driver was texting or engaging with their phone in any way, they’re at fault.
Driving while intoxicated is another form of negligence. These cases almost always result in the injured driver getting compensation.
Other forms of negligence include aggressive driving, operating a vehicle while tired, and excessive speeding. If proven, all are determinations of fault.
State laws dictate what an attorney must prove to show that negligence caused the crash. This is why it’s important to work with an experienced lawyer if you’re pursuing an accident claim.
All drivers on the road owe a duty of care to other motorists. To prove negligence, you must show that the other driver violated this duty through their actions.
If you’re fighting for compensation for injuries, you have to do more than show the other’s driver’s actions caused the wreck. You also have to prove that the failure to provide a duty of care directly resulted in your injuries.
An attorney will use any evidence collected at the scene, a police report, and their own investigation to prove fault. If they’re successful, the judge will award compensation based on the value of your damages.
Know Who’s At Fault After the Accident
Determining fault is an essential component of any car accident claim. If the accident caused damage to your vehicle or injuries, knowing how to gauge fault will come in handy.
Use the information discussed above and get compensation for your damages.
We hope this article has been informative. Please feel free to check out the rest of our site for more content on a wide range of topics.