You can tell who is at fault in a car accident by considering driver and witness statements, dash cam footage, the location of vehicle damage, the position of the vehicles, or any citations issued after the accident. Insurance companies will also use adjustors and accident reconstruction experts to determine fault in car accidents. These expects consider factors such as the point of impact, evidence of sudden acceleration, and the angle of the steering wheel.
How to Determine Fault in a Car Accident
- Take pictures of the vehicle damage and accident scene.
- Find witnesses who saw what happened.
- Give your statement to the police and file a report, to aid in their investigation.
- Provide the insurance adjuster with all of your evidence and information.
Who Determines Fault After a Car Accident?
When you file a claim after a car accident, the insurance company will assign an adjuster to your case. Adjustors evaluate all of the evidence related to the accident and determine who is at fault.
Insurance adjusters make this decision using the legal definition of negligence, which is when a driver fails to exercise the same amount of caution that a “reasonable person” would under the same circumstances.
States have different ways of handling at-fault accidents based on the degree of negligence shown by each driver. Each system affects how damages can be awarded differently, too.
State Negligence Laws & Fault in Car Accidents
Expenses are covered based on the degree of responsibility that each driver has for the accident. Used in 12 states, including California and Florida.
Modified Comparative Negligence
Your expenses will only be covered by the other driver’s insurance if you are less than 51% at fault. Used in 33 states, including Texas and Illinois.
You cannot recoup expenses at all if you share any blame for the accident. Used in five states, including Maryland and Virginia, plus the District of Columbia.
How to Make the Fault Determination Process Easier
The more information and evidence that you gather after a car accident, the easier the insurance adjuster’s job will be. Since liability can sometimes come down to your word versus the other driver’s, get the names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident. Also, prior to leaving the scene, take plenty of pictures of the damage to both vehicles, the debris from the accident, and anything in your surroundings that could be relevant.
You might need to call the police and file a report, too, depending on the extent of any injuries and property damage. Officers might issue citations as they investigate the accident, and while a citation doesn’t legally prove who was at fault, it could be used as evidence of negligence in a lawsuit.
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