How Is Fault Determined After an Accident?
Vehicle accidents are part of life. Most people will be involved in a car crash at least once in their lifetime. These collisions range from minor fender-benders to severe crashes which are potentially fatal. Most of them are followed by weeks or months of negotiations. There are discussions over who was is responsible and what sort of compensation is deserved.
The key to determining the answers to the questions that arise after a vehicle crash is fault. The at-fault party tends to be held responsible for the collision and the aftermath, but determining fault and what the at-fault party is obligated to do tends to be a complicated situation.
When it comes to finding fault in an accident, five methods tend to be used:
- Drivers Involved in Collision Decide Who Was at Fault
Sometimes it’s simple. There’s a minor fender-bender and both parties exchange info and one takes responsibility for the collision.
There are also occasions in which the accident is more serious and someone at the scene claims responsibility. This can make the situation dicey. Nobody should claim anything was their fault, even they believe that it is, when they are upset or intimidated at the scene of the crash. There’s time to work out the details later once everyone is thinking straight and not upset about the accident.
- Fault is Listed in the Police Report
Sometimes the police who arrive at the scene determine who is at fault for the accident. They assess the scene of the accident, take note of the damage to the vehicles and how the vehicles are situated in the aftermath, and they determine who caused the accident.
This tends to make the situation less complicated, but you shouldn’t assume that a police report is always accurate. It lends a great deal of credibility to the situation, though, which is why it’s important to call the police to the scene of a crash. Later, when you are trying to prove your case and negotiate with insurance companies, a favorable police report tends to make your argument far more credible.
- Decision is Made by the Insurance Company
Once the insurance company has spoken to you or your attorney about the details of the collision and it has conducted an investigation, it will make a ruling on who is at fault. If you were involved in an accident and the other party is at fault, your insurance provider will do everything it can to prove the other party was responsible. This saves them money and prevents your insurance premiums from going up.
- Parties Go to Arbitration
If it’s impossible for the police or insurance company to decide and nobody involved admits fault, an arbitrator might be called in to make a ruling. He or she will listen to both sides, investigate the accident, and determine why it occurred and who caused it.
- Case Goes to a Jury
In some instances, a trial is needed to determine fault in an accident. You’ll state your case, the other person or people involved will state theirs, the jury will review the facts and evidence, and they’ll make a ruling. Auto accident cases rarely make it this far, but once they do the matter is essentially settled completely.
If you have questions about auto accidents or you’ve been involved in a collision, we can help. Contact Heavens Law at 888.897.5377 to schedule a free consultation.