Modified: November 18, 2022

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

In a nutshell, determining liability in a car wreck depends on the U.S. state you were injured in and insurance regulations.
Determine fault in a freeway crash concept

I am attorney Michael Ehline.

I am an expert on negligence law and am here to go over the rules.

State laws play a major role with respect to insurance coverage options and determining whether you will receive compensation. In no-fault states, insurance companies must cover the damages of their policyholders regardless of who is at fault. There, things like weather conditions and other factors are ignored when deciding to pay a basic claim.

This removes the need to prove fault in a car accident case in a no-fault state. However, things can get tricky if the accident occurs in a fault-based state. California is a fault-based state. Fault-based states operate differently. Here, compensation gets awarded according to the degree of fault determined in a car accident. This means that when you file a claim against the other driver’s insurance policy, the two insurance companies determine fault based on the evidence provided.

Don’t Worry About the Insurance Company – Personal Injury Warriors are Ready to Make the Other Driver Take Responsibility

Determining fault in straightforward cases is relatively easy. For example, in a rear-end collision, the driver who hit the car from the back is at fault. However, car accidents are sometimes not straightforward but rather complicated, and car insurance companies are responsible for determining fault.

How do Insurance Companies determine Fault?

It can often be difficult to determine who is at fault in a car accident. When filing claims, an insurance company has a claim form that requires personal details and information related to the incident, such as date, time, location, and more.

Once the claim form is filed, the insurance company starts the investigation by looking at the facts of the accident, photos, a police report, and other relevant documents. You might get a call from the insurance company inquiring further about the accident. This helps them use whatever information is available to assess fault.

Once the fault gets determined, or if it is a shared fault, the companies then process the claims accordingly to cover medical expenses from the accident and property damage. However, assigning the degree of fault in a shared fault case can be challenging as there could be multiple parties involved. For example, if a driver gets rear-ended because they overtook your car but then presses on emergency brakes, allowing your vehicle to smash into it, it could result in your insurer covering 80% of the damages. In comparison, the other driver’s insurance company claims the remaining 20%.

What Happens If the Fault Is Unclear?

As mentioned, determining fault and holding the at-fault driver accountable is not easy; even with all the documents presented, the responsibility for the accident can still be unclear. When two or more drivers do not admit fault, the companies reach out to witnesses and bystanders to get some information that would contribute to the case.

In a vehicular accident case, bystanders and interviewing witnesses play a vital role. It is always recommended to take down the information of witnesses right after the accident if you believe you were not at fault.

Another form of evidence that insurance companies take into consideration is footage from traffic cameras. Insurance companies can request access to footage from security and traffic cameras whenever a case gets complicated, or the fault is not evident from the evidence provided.

Photographic evidence that shows damage to the vehicle can help them assess fault. A police report is also a great piece of evidence as it contains facts about the incident and an officer’s opinion.

A qualified car accident lawyer can help gather the relevant evidence and file claims against the insurer on your behalf. The attorney will then deal with the insurance companies to help you get the maximum compensation for your damages.

Personal Injury Protection in California

Getting PIP in California is a great option to secure yourself from the hassles of insurance and delayed claims. Although expensive, it provides extensive coverage for the policyholder in an auto accident.

Personal injury protection, or PIP, is not compulsory in California and is an option for added coverage. Also known as Med-Pay, the insurance covers the policyholder’s medical bills and funeral costs from an accident, regardless of where the car accident fault lies. PIP also covers damage from uninsured, underinsured, and hit-and-run drivers.

What to Do After an Accident?

What you do after an accident plays an important role in assessing who is at fault, so try to calm yourself down first.

Call the Police to File a Police Report

Call the local authorities to report the incident. They will reach the accident scene and take down details of the accident, with the police officer writing his own opinion about the incident in the police report. Police reports are important pieces of documentation, although not compulsory, that can help aid with your claims process. You also need to call your own insurance company to report the accident.

Take Photographic Evidence

Photographic evidence is very important in assisting an insurance company in determining fault. For example, a vehicle hit from the side at an intersection could easily help insurers determine the fault. Take pictures of all the vehicles involved and also the accident site if there are any skid marks.

Exchange Contact Details

Drivers involved in a car accident often exchange contact details and insurance information for letting insurers deal with the accident. Take notes of relevant information, including names, contact numbers, insurance policy numbers, and license numbers.

Check for Injuries

When seeking compensation, insurers look at whether or not the person received medical treatment for their injuries immediately. Prolonging treatment can decrease the insurance claim value as the car insurance company can blame the delay for the injuries and not the car accident.

Even if you don’t have any injuries, get to a medical center for an examination, as some injuries often take time to manifest. Make sure you keep copies of all the documents and receipts. Insurance adjusters use medical reports to check for injuries that may help determine fault after a car accident and also help in determining claims with the other driver’s insurance adjuster.

Our injury attorneys can assess everything when filing claims against the at-fault driver’s insurance company to recover compensation for medical bills, vehicle damage, and other losses. Our personal injury lawyers will take charge of your personal injury case, research traffic laws, file claims, find insurance coverage, and get you the maximum compensation.

If You Were Not at Fault for the Accident, Contact Personal Injury Warriors, Today

If you got into an accident that was not your fault or modified comparative negligence played a role, contact us to talk to our car accident lawyer. We can provide you with legal advice on your car accident case and find the defendant with financial responsibility by identifying fault for your injury expenses. Schedule a free consultation today by dialing (213) 596-9642 before ruining your case by admitting fault with the insurance company.

Top Notch American Injury Lawyer, Michael Ehline

Michael Ehline

Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer in the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his J.D. from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements.

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