In some car accidents, it is obvious who is at fault. Other times, each driver claims it is the other driver’s fault. Then there are cases where more than one person is at fault. Regardless, every car accident has to have an at-fault party for insurance and personal injury claims. The driver who caused the accident is legally responsible for the injured party’s damages to property and person.
Here is how fault is determined. Keep in mind that laws vary by state, but many of these same principles apply everywhere.
Traffic laws: Traffic laws often tell how to merge properly, when to reduce speed, when to use turn signals and other information that can be used in an auto accident personal injury case. If someone broke the law, that can be a determining factor in proving culpability.
Police reports: Insurance companies and personal injury lawyers put a lot of weight on police reports that are filed at the scene of an accident. That is why it is important to call police to even the slightest fender-bender. Always review the police report at the scene before the officer leaves to make sure it is accurate.
Rear-end collisions: Traffic laws require a safe following distance at all times. Even if the lead car brakes suddenly, the cars following it need to be able to stop safely. If you get hit from behind, it is almost always the rear driver’s fault.
Other evidence: Personal injury attorneys and insurance adjusters also will consider photos of the accident scene and might interview witnesses to help determine who is at fault.
Some drivers admit fault at the scene of an accident. It very well might have been their fault, or they might have thought it was their fault, but they did not have all the information required to make that determination. Insurance adjusters are usually quick to assign fault to someone who admits it or apologizes. Because of the consequences of being the at-fault driver, we advise drivers to never admit fault at the scene of an accident.