How Do You Determine Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident?

After a car accident in which you suffered an injury, you may be wondering, how do you determine who is at fault in a car accident? This is important, because determining fault plays a role in whether you are able to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Law enforcement officers who respond to the accident scene will investigate exactly what happened. They will use the facts they uncover to try to determine which driver’s actions caused the crash. Some of the information police will use to figure out fault in a car accident are:

  • Interviews with the drivers
  • Interviews with witnesses to the accident
  • The final positioning of the cars
  • Types of damage to the cars
  • Extent of damage to the cars
  • Whether air bags deployed
  • Skid marks from attempts to brake
  • Whether either driver appears to be intoxicated
  • Whether either car was malfunctioning
  • Any video that shows the accident.

After collecting the information, law enforcement officers will file a report that describes the accident scene and makes a determination as to how the crash occurred. As part of the investigation, if officers determine that one of the drivers was violating traffic laws and that this action led to the crash, they may issue a traffic ticket to the driver.

How Insurance Companies Handle Assigning Fault in a Car Accident

When an insurance company attempts to decide who is at fault in an accident, the adjusters will rely heavily on the police report. The insurer will speak with its policyholder, too, verifying that the information in the police report is accurate.

Based on this information, the insurer may accept that its driver is at fault in the car accident without questioning the police report’s findings. If this occurs in an accident in which you suffered an injury, you then can seek damages for your pain, suffering, and medical bills from the insurance company representing the other driver.

Disagreeing with the Police Report Findings

In some cases, the insurance company for the driver who hit you may not agree with the police report that placed its driver at fault. The insurer may attempt to find facts in the case that show that your actions also contributed to the accident, which would limit the amount of money you could receive in a settlement or which could completely dismiss your claim.

You and your attorney have the right to present your own facts that show the other driver’s insurance company is wrong, and that your actions behind the wheel didn’t contribute to the accident.

If both sides refuse to accept blame, it then may be up to a jury during a court case to decide who is at fault in an accident.

Unclear Police Report Findings

After investigating the case, it is possible that police will be unable to assign fault. Officers may simply not have enough information to feel comfortable making a decision on who is at fault. Perhaps the officers receive conflicting information from witnesses to the crash, leaving them unable to determine who caused the crash.

You and your attorney at Strong Law will work to find new information about the crash, such as through interviewing witnesses again or through hiring accident recreation experts. This information may show that the other driver’s actions caused the accident.

Collecting Facts to Decide Fault in a Car Accident

The primary way police will work to figure out what caused a car crash and who was at fault will be through interviews with those involved. Officers will attempt to speak with witnesses while they are at the scene. However, if this is not possible because some of the people involved have serious injuries that require emergency care, police may continue the investigation and interviews until later.

In the chaos of the aftermath of a car accident, you may be unsure exactly what happened, or you may not be thinking clearly. If you gave police an incorrect statement after the accident before receiving treatment for your injuries, you can amend the statement later after you recover or when you are thinking more clearly.

Either way, you should never admit fault in the accident, either to police or to others involved in the crash. Don’t lie to police when questioned, but don’t accept fault, either. Let the police determine which driver was at fault.

Checking the Validity of a Police Accident Report

Because the police report is such an important part of determining fault in a car crash, you and your attorney should go over the report after receiving it, as soon as possible. If you notice mistakes in the report, or if you believe that some of the statements attributed to you are incorrect, you and your attorney should ask the investigating officer to amend the report as quickly as possible.

You don’t want the other driver’s insurance company to make use of this incorrect information to begin building a case that shows you were at fault. This mistake can significantly lengthen the amount of time required to eventually come to a settlement in the case.

Additionally, as your attorney investigates the case and interviews witnesses, new information about the crash may come to light. Police may or may not choose to amend the report based on this new information, but you and your attorney still can use this information to show that the other driver caused the accident and to justify the settlement amount you are requesting.

Count on Strong Law to Help You Receive the Settlement You Deserve

So how do you determine who is at fault for a car accident? You and your attorney will make use of a variety of different reports and information to attempt to show that the other driver caused the crash, meaning you are eligible to receive the full settlement amount that you are seeking in the car accident case.

Once the other driver’s insurer accepts fault, then you and your car accident attorney at Strong Law will work to show what kind of settlement amount you deserve, based on your medical bills, the lingering nature of your injuries, and the ways in which your life has changed after the crash.

The team at Strong Law has offices in Tacoma, Portland, and Salt Lake City. For a free consultation, call us today at 206-741-1051.