How Is Fault Determined In A Car Accident?

Law Articles

If you're ever involved in a car accident, one of your first things to address will be who is at fault. Deciding whose fault an accident is can be a complicated issue, so how exactly is fault determined? Here you will learn a little about how insurance companies, police officers and lawyers determine fault, and how that will affect your case.

Comparative Negligence

The first thing you need to find out from your counsel is whether your state is a tort state or whether the state recognizes comparative negligence. Tort states assign full blame to one party or another in an accident, while comparative negligence states recognize that both parties may be partially at fault.

If your state recognizes comparative negligence, if you are found to be less at fault than the other party, you may still seek damages from their insurance, or, if they are uninsured, from them personally. Talking to an attorney right away will help you understand this complicated issue more clearly, and your counsel can help you in the process of seeking damages.

The Police Report

Most people who are involved in a car accident believe themselves to be not at fault. When a car becomes damaged in an accident, the police should be called and an official report should be documented. This helps insurance companies and lawyers sort out who is truly at fault.

The police will take statements from everyone involved in the accident, and any witnesses who remain in the area afterward. They will examine both vehicles carefully and look for clues. Police look for things like paint, plastic and rubber transfer, skid marks, and the angle at which the vehicles involved collided to inform their judgement of who is at fault. 

Police can also tell who is at fault by determining the speeds at which each vehicle was traveling. They do that by examining the vehicles and noting the extent of the damage to each. A car going even slightly faster than the speed limit can do significantly more damage in an accident.

While you are waiting for the police, it can help your case if you take pictures of the accident yourself, record statements from witnesses, and document your own version of events immediately. This helps significantly because the events are still fresh in your mind, and you are less likely to forget important details. With smartphones, all of this is possible on the same device.

Circumstances of the Accident

The events leading up to the accident, and the way in which it occurred, are important to note. For example, rear end collisions are almost always found to be the fault of the party who did the rear-ending. The reason for this is because it is expected that drivers leave enough room between their vehicle and the one ahead of them to stop in time to avoid a collision. 

Fault by Admission

Immediately after the accident, some people feel the need to apologize and take the blame on themselves, even if they were not truly at fault. That is a serious mistake, and can be used against you in court. It's fine to check on the other driver, offer assistance if they need it, and take charge of the situation, but avoid any form of taking the blame, including apologizing. 

No one relishes the thought of being in a car accident. The best way to avoid having to go to all the trouble of hiring a car accident attorney and dealing with insurance companies is to pay close attention to the road and keep a sharp eye out for reckless drivers. If you are involved in a car accident, call for counsel right away. It can make all the difference in your case.


23 September 2014

Dealing with Estate Planning When You're Single

Too many single people assume they don't need to plan their estate. My brother fell into this category, and his unexpected passing left our entire family struggling to deal with his home, belongings, and financial accounts. It took nearly three years for the courts to set up a deal because he left no paperwork detailing how he wanted his estate divided. The situation immediately convinced me to work on my own estate, even though I'm still in my early 30's and don't have children or a spouse to worry about. Since it's a little harder to pick beneficiaries and estate managers when you're single, I collected the resources I used for making my own decisions and decided to publish them here on my blog. Use these resources before talking to an estate planning attorney so you're prepared for making hard decisions.