How Is Fault Determined in a Car Crash Case?

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Crashed cars street at night

​​Determining who is at fault in your car accident is a critical step to filing an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit. Who is at fault has a direct connection to the outcome of your claim and accident injury case. When parties disagree on who was at fault, Belleville Car Accident Lawyers Hipskind & McAninch can be of service.

In 2019, more than 6.7 million car accidents occurred in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Determining fault in an auto accident is not easy when liability is not clear.  Read on for more information on how to determine who is at fault or speak to an attorney about your right to recover financial compensation for an accident.

Car Accident Fault

In some car accidents, the fault is easier to assign. For example, when someone fails to stop when another driver comes to a halt, and the driver causes a rear-end collision. Each state has laws about how fault is determined. Car insurance companies must know who is at fault before determining which party is financially responsible for the damages.

If a motorist is deemed 100% at fault for an accident, their insurance company will be liable for covering injuries. In some states, if one driver is 51% or more at fault, that driver will pay 100% of the damages. In other states, each driver’s insurance company covers the percentage of damages equal to their percentage of fault.

The party who is liable for the accident is typically legally responsible for the injured party’s damages. Sometimes, like in multi-car accidents, more than one party may be at fault for the accident. In these situations, the fault may be divided amongst the different people involved in the accident.

Determining Fault

The insurance company will evaluate the evidence and circumstances involved in the accident to help determine who was responsible for the accident. Determining fault can be difficult, especially when there are no eyewitnesses present. Typically, the drivers involved, the police, and the drivers’ insurance companies determine who is at fault.

Drivers Determining Fault

The drivers involved in a car accident may decide who is at fault at the scene of the incident. If you admit fault, you may be required to take financial responsibility for the incident. Take pictures of the accident and collect contact information from witnesses and make notes about what happened to help maintain your innocence when the police arrive.

Police Reports

The police will analyze the scene to understand who is at fault. Police will be paramount in determining if additional factors, such as driving under the influence or texting and driving, were involved in an accident. Police reports are crucial for determining legal liability.

Insurance companies

Your insurance company decides which claims they fulfill and which they do not. If the other party involved is the at-fault driver, your insurance company can seek a payout from that driver’s insurance provider.

No-Fault States

In no-fault states, drivers can use their personal injury protection (PIP) to help pay for their injuries or those of any passengers in their vehicle, regardless of fault. In no-fault states, PIP covers your injuries after an accident regardless of fault. However, if certain conditions are met, you may be able to sue the at-fault driver for injury expenses.

In tort states, if you are not at fault in an accident, you can choose to either wait for bodily injury liability from the other driver or use your own medical payments coverage. Speak with a car crash attorney in your community if you are unsure whether or not you’re eligible for financial compensation after your injury accident.

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