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How Is Fault Determined in a Car Accident?

December 8, 2021Firm News

After a car accident, it is the insurance companies that will determine fault. Here is what they will consider when deciding.

The Police Report

A police report doesn’t always have the final say, but the officer will provide an objective opinion on how they believe the accident occurred. It will also contain vital details on how they reached that conclusion, such as:

  • The final positioning of the vehicles
  • The location and extent of damage to the vehicles
  • Whether airbags deployed
  • Whether there are skid marks on the road from attempts to brake
  • Interviews with the drivers involved
  • Interviews with any witnesses to the accident
  • Whether either driver appeared intoxicated, was cited for a traffic violation, or was arrested.
  • Whether either car was believed to have malfunctioned
  • Any video they viewed of the accident

A traffic law violation or an arrest can serve as significant evidence of fault for the collision that would be difficult for that party to challenge.

No-Doubt Liability

Fault can quickly be determined in some car accident claims due to “no-doubt liability.” A no-doubt liability accident is one where it is almost always one particular driver’s fault. For example,

  • Rear-End Accident: Fault for the collision typically falls on the driver in the back.
  • Left-Hand Turn Accident: The drivers making a left-hand turn in front of oncoming traffic is generally responsible.
  • Backing-Up Accident: In most cases, the driver doing the backing up is at fault for an accident that occurs.
  • Red-Light Accident: A driver who runs a red light and collides into another vehicle is almost always at fault. However, if there is a lack of evidence and both drivers claim they had a green light, it can pose a problem when the insurer determines fault.
  • DUI Accident: Without any compelling evidence to the contrary, the driver under the influence at the time of a collision is always considered to be at fault.

In these types of cases, it is challenging for the at-fault party to argue against their liability, and most claims are quickly resolved with a settlement in favor of the victims.

Comparative Fault

This law allows parties to recover compensation even if one is 99% percent responsible for an accident. The insurance company will assign a percentage of fault to each party, and their compensation will be reduced accordingly. For example, if you are awarded $100,000 and found 40% responsible and the other driver is 60%, you will receive 60% of your award or $60,000. If you are assigned 80% of the blame, you will receive 20% or $20,000, and so on. As long as you are not 100% to blame, you can recover compensation.

How To Minimize Fault

When another party is at fault, it doesn’t mean their insurance company will readily extend a fair settlement offer. Therefore, it is critical to do what you can, which includes:

  • Never admitting fault or saying sorry to the other driver.
  • Taking pictures and/or video of the scene, damage to the vehicles, and of your injuries.
  • Notifying the police so an accident report can be created.
  • Seeking immediate medical treatment.
  • Not posting about the accident on social media.

Last but not least, hire a St. Louis car accident attorney. They help you ensure liability falls on the appropriate party.

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