How is Fault Determined After a Car Accident Involving Two Vehicles?
You’ve been in a car accident with another vehicle. You thought you did nothing wrong and that the other driver was at fault, but the other driver is maintaining that the fault is yours. What now? Who makes the determination of who is responsible for whatever damage has occurred?
The good news is that it’s not up to you or the other driver to make that determination. There is a series of events and procedures that will follow your accident that will put the decision into the hands of experienced investigators and observers who have extensive knowledge of traffic laws, as well as of what constitutes negligence and fault.
The first step in the process is the gathering of information by local police. When a car accident occurs and the police are called, officers will observe the accident scene, noting details such as the location of traffic signs and the particular damage to both vehicles, taking witness statements from both drivers and any others who are on the scene. This information gathering helps create a police report in which the officer may or may not indicate who they believe was at fault, and even if it does, their judgment of the situation and any citation that the issue will simply be one consideration for the final determination of fault.
While the police report is generated immediately after the accident, the drivers’ insurance companies generally get involved once claims are submitted to them. Each driver’s insurer will review the details as explained to them by their policyholders, as well as the police report and witness statements and any medical reports that may have been generated. They will also view the property damage. Taking all of this information, they will determine both the costs involved in the accident and who they believe was at fault based on rules about negligence, as well as traffic laws. The situation and question of responsibility may end with the insurance company determination, but in cases where a significant personal injury has occurred, the question may go to a judge and jury in a civil lawsuit.
When a personal injury lawsuit is filed over a car accident, the facts of the case will be explained to a jury to determine whether the party accused of being at fault failed to take reasonable precautions or actions to prevent the accident from occurring.
If you have been in a car accident and believe that the other person is at fault, an experienced attorney can help you tell your story in a compelling way so that you can receive the compensation that you deserve. Contact us today to set up a time to discuss your specific situation.