Learning who determines fault in an accident may seem self-explanatory. However, appearances can be deceiving for involved parties in the 5.25 million crashes that happen annually.
Consider that 2.28 million people in those crashes report serious injuries, and it’s not a determination that you want to leave to chance. In this article, we’ll walk you through all the avenues of how fault is determined.
The first step to determining the at-fault party is to examine the accident itself. Particularly, look at your role in it. Did you take a driving action that initiated the accident?
If so, was it done to avoid another driver’s mistake, or was it due to some disregard for a traffic law or signal? Replay the accident in your head, and determine the timeline of events to the best of your ability.
The Role of Law Enforcement
The next step in determining the at-fault party in a car accident is to notify law enforcement. Contrary to popular belief, this is not the definitive decision-maker.
Law enforcement will not give you a report that clearly defines you or the other driver was at fault. However, their decision to issue a citation (or not) can make a significant impact on the final decision.
The third component to determining car accident fault is the involved insurance companies. Typically, an adjuster for the involved companies will look at the accident and submit their findings of fault based on laws and legal precedent.
If the insurance companies are in agreement, that can settle the question right there. However, if there is disagreement, they may look to the court system for a final ruling.
Before you think it can’t happen to you, people are wrongly accused of being at fault every year. You can read on here for what to do if you’re on the receiving end of such a decision.
The final component for who determines who’s at fault in an accident could be the judicial system. What a judge decides ultimately lies with the work of your attorney.
Fault in every car accident is not cut-and-dry. Parties dispute claims all the time.
In those cases, you need an attorney who knows the evidence to obtain, the signals to look for, and the laws that best justify your case. It’s the only way to get a favorable decision from a judge or jury.
As you search for a personal injury attorney, don’t hire the first one you see. Look for someone with specialized experience in going head-to-head with insurance companies.
Learning Who Determines Fault in an Accident Is a Process
Once you establish who determines fault in an accident, you’ll know the proper channels to go through to plead your case if it becomes necessary to do so. Too much rides on this determination physically and financially.
That’s why you should always hire a personal injury attorney if it’s ever in doubt. For more legal information and articles, check out some of our other posts!