If you’ve recently been in a car wreck, you’ve probably wondered how they determine who is at fault in an accident.
Even in cases that seem pretty obvious, drivers can deny fault and muddy up the waters so that further clarification is needed.
Keep reading for an overview of how fault is likely to be determined in a car accident.
How Fault Is Determined
Who is to blame for a car accident is determined in a variety of ways. If the driver at fault admits they are to blame for the accident, the situation stays cut and dry. In most accidents, however, further clarification will be necessary.
The Police Report
After an accident occurs, your first step should be to call the police and file an official report. If you end up needing to go to trial to recoup losses and cover damages, an official report of the incident is generally your strongest piece of evidence.
The police will talk to all parties involved and any eyewitnesses to the accident. They look at the scene to fill in additional details based on how the vehicles wound up. They can use footage from security cameras to help fill in gaps.
The accident report will include their observations, all statements, and details about the wreck that will help them determine who is at fault.
The Insurance Agencies
If the fault is contested, the insurance companies will step in and conduct an investigation. It’s always a good idea to take your own photos of the accident and gather contact information from witnesses you may need to talk to later for evidence. An insurance adjuster will go through the information and determine if they will pay the damages.
Attorneys and Court Cases
If the police and insurance adjusters can’t come to a satisfactory conclusion, you might have to seek damages through the court system. An attorney will do an in-depth investigation of the police report and insurance claims and build a case to determine who the liable party is.
Many cases settle outside of court before a trial is necessary. See this settlement guide for car accidents for an explanation of the process.
Fault According to State Laws
Most states are fault-based states, meaning the person responsible for the accident is liable for damages and their insurance will help pay for repairs and medical bills. It’s important to note that some states are no-fault states, meaning that drivers must carry personal injury protection for their own medical expenses.
Even in a no-fault state, however, property damages are still paid by the driver at fault, meaning that determining fault in a no-fault state is still necessary.
Who Is at Fault in an Accident?
The police, insurance adjusters, and the courts, if it comes to it, all help determine who is at fault in an accident. Make sure to contact the police immediately and gather information like photos and witness contact info in the event the fault is disputed.
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