Working out who is responsible for car accidents includes taking a look at who was careless, or otherwise known as negligent. However, in certain car accident cases, this isn’t always easy.
In cases where it is simple to tell who was in the wrong, those people will be responsible for injuries or property damage.
Many times though, these cases can be complicated by the inclusion of multiple parties trying to determine the fault after all accidents.
These parties can include law enforcement, insurance or the courts. Down below, we’ve gone a little more into how the determination of fault works and who can help you in these situations.
Who Is At Fault – Police
After a car accident has been reported to the authorities, the officers have the duty of creating a police report stating the incidents that occurred.
Police officers will attempt to interview the drivers, as well as any witnesses that saw the accident happen. These officers will go through a series of questions in order to work out an accurate state of events.
After a police officer decides that they have the required information, the report will be submitted to the relevant department.
These reports may include statements about those at fault based on what they have pieced together, paired with their own judgment.
It is worth noting, however, that a lot of police reports do not have a determination of fault in them. Even reports that state who they think was responsible for the accident is no measure of that person being held responsible legally.
As officers dive into the investigation, they may choose to issue a traffic citation.
A traffic citation is a notice created by law enforcement, which is an accusation of drivers for violating traffic laws. This can include making an unlawful turn or going over the speed limit.
The citations are an indication of a deduction of points or a fine being issued against the driver. The citations may also require a driver to come into court. Citations may not be used as a way to prove the driver was responsible for any car accidents. They can, however, be picked as evidence that the particular driver was negligent.
Who Is At Fault – Insurance Companies
After a claim has been filed with insurance companies due to a car accident, the company will take the claim to an adjuster. The assigned adjuster will look into the investigation of the car accident and the insurance claim that hopes to be settled.
In most situations, there will be more than one adjuster allocated to the case. The reason this is is that the insurance company of the driver will also have an adjuster that looks into the incident.
The adjusters will start by researching the accident in question.
This research will include speaking to witnesses, going through medical reports, looking for vehicle damage, as well as making sure any details about insurance policies are known.
The adjuster will come to the conclusion about who was in the wrong in the car accident. In some cases, they will assign different amounts of fault to each driver.
If this is the case, the insurance companies will allocate the costs of the accident based on these percentages.
This indemnifies drivers according to the terms written in the insurance policy.
These companies will determine fault using legal definitions of negligence. These definitions can vary from state to state but will be adhered to depending on location.
Negligence can be defined as when a person is not exercising the caution that is required (that should be expected in similar circumstances).
Courts in Texas make use of a legal rule called modified comparative negligence. This can limit the ability of the driver to file a claim using the insurance company of the other party. With this rule, someone can only make their losses back if they’re less than 51% at fault.
Who Is At Fault – Victim
If you attempt to file any lawsuits post-car accident and then attempt to get money, the court will make a decision about who was at fault. As we’ve looked at above, courts will weigh up the arguments from the lawyers of both parties.
They also use evidence given to them to make their decision.
This evidence can include testimonies from any drivers involved and even the perspective of witnesses.
More evidence may also include the word of police officers who looked into the accident, and experts involved such as doctors. The jury or the judge will make a decision by looking at evidence and seeing whether the driver was negligent or not.
If they are, they will be required to pay money to cover for injuries and other losses as part of the penalty.
Police reports and the inclusion of insurance companies do not necessarily have a significant impact on the outcome of court cases. The rules for evidence can stop certain types of evidence being used in a trial. Police reports, in particular, are considered as hearsay.
There are a variety of rules that work out the determination of who is responsible for a car accident. This can include precedent from other cases in the same area where your case is being looked at.
Traffic citations, while not definitive, may actually persuade the court that the person responsible for the violation was acting in a way that is negligent and could be at fault. This can be very advantageous to any parties that are injured.
Finding Out Who Is At Fault In A Car Accident
If you don’t know who is to blame for a car accident that you’ve been involved in, a qualified attorney is one of the best routes to explore.
As a car accident can be very overwhelming, dealing with all of the parties involved can add to this. An accident lawyer can help by giving you information and expertise about your situation, as well as helping to protect your rights.
This can also prevent you from being manipulated by the police or insurance companies if you are being scrutinized for your role in an accident.
Need assistance with your case? Just get in touch with us at your earliest convenience.
Mark Dana has been practicing in Rhode Island for over 25 years. He has handled hundreds of cases in courthouses throughout the state. Due to Attorney Dana’s knowledge and reputation, he can often be seen appearing as the legal commentator for NBC 10 in Providence.