Car Crash! Who is at Fault?

When in a car accident you may wonder who determines which driver is at fault and how is it determined who is at fault? Determining liability for the accident is important for many reasons.

Who determines who is liable for the accident? In most accidents the insurance company determines who is at fault. They will usually investigate the crash, look at statements the drivers made, police reports, and look to other evidence at the crash site. The insurance company is looking to find which driver was negligent.

Negligence. Negligence is a legal term that means acting carelessly, thoughtlessly, or in a manner contrary to the way a reasonable driver would act under the circumstances. When looking to find who is at fault the insurance company will attempt to find who was acting negligently.

In some car accidents it’s very obvious who was acting negligently. For example, if you are stopped at a stop sign and a driver crashes into the rear of your vehicle the other driver was obviously driving negligently. In these situations it doesn’t take long for the insurance companies to determine fault. These types of accidents are often referred to as “no doubt” cases because the facts involve leave almost no room for mistakes about who caused the collision. However, other cases are not as easy. In such situations the insurance company will have to look at other evidence.

Police Reports

Many car crashes do not particularly involve the police. However when the police do assist in the event of and accident their reports can be a deciding factor in determining who is at fault. Upon the conclusion of the initial investigation police officers write a report this report will entail their findings and who they feel is at fault for the accident.

For example if a driver makes a left turn on a red light or an illegal U-turn and one of these violations causes the accident the police can conclude that they are at fault. Along with finding fault the police may issue a citation for not complying with traffic laws.

If the police report states an officer’s opinion that one driver committed an infraction and caused the accident, this is typically enough for insurance companies to determine the offending driver was at fault.

Comparative Negligence

In some accidents both drivers are negligent. For example if both driver ran a stop sign or Driver A failed to signal and Driver B failed to yield. This is referred to as comparative negligence. In such cases car insurance companies might divide fault between both drivers. They might, for example, say that one driver was at fault for 70% of the crash, while the other driver was at fault for 30%. Depending on the laws of your state you might be able to recover either 70% or 30% of the costs of the crash from the other driver’s insurance company, while in other situations you might not be able to recover anything, especially if you were responsible for more than 50% of the accident. To determine if you can recover any of the damages, you should call an experienced Car Accident attorney as soon as possible after the accident occurred.