Determining the person at fault in a car accident is a critical part of the analysis of the merits of a legal case and the estimated value of the case to the winning side.
The Best Advice From a Car Accident Attorney
If one is in a car accident. Maintain composure. Strictly avoid saying anything that might indicate blame, such as “I did not see the car.” or even sympathetic statements, such as “I’m sorry this happened.” Use of such statements against you is possible, if witnessed and especially if told to the police. Best be silent.
Get a Personal Injury Lawyer Involved if Anyone is Injured
It is very important to have competent legal representation when involved in any car accident where someone suffers injury. Just because one thinks they did not cause the accident, does not mean there is sufficient proof of that conclusion.
What to Look For to Help Determine Fault
A good attorney will check these things and more, to determine who was at fault:
- Automatic Fault – Some types of accidents automatically create fault for a specific party involved. Rear-end collisions are an example. The person driving the car that rear-ends another one, is almost always at fault, no matter what caused the car in front to stop. Left-turn accidents are another example. Usually the person making the left-turn, if the accident involves an oncoming car, is the one at fault. A driver is only supposed to attempt a left-turn if it is safe to do so. Exceptions include the oncoming driver runs a red light and, less frequently, the oncoming driver is traveling at excessive speeds.
- Police Report and Citations – The police report is a key part of evidence for any car accident. It usually contains descriptions of the accident location, weather conditions, if any injuries occurred, and the issuance of any citations. Often the police report may state who the officer thinks was at fault. If citations were issued, it is important to get a copy of each citation because it may state on the citation who the officer believes is at fault. Also the existence of a citation can help prove who is at fault.
- Traffic Law – If someone has broken a traffic law this helps to prove who is at fault. Investigation of the traffic law, as it applies to what may have caused the accident, is clearly important if citations were issued, but also important even if citations were not issued.
- Physical Investigation of the Accident Site – Sometimes it’s helpful to return to the accident site, on a day that is a similar to the day the accident occurred during the same time as the accident. Taking photographs of the accident site is also very useful and they can be used to help re-create the accident for demonstration purposes.
- Background Investigation of the Parties Involved – Surprisingly, there are people who actually try to create accidents on purpose. It is always a good idea to check to see if the other parties involved have a history of car accidents and insurance claims.
- Degree of Carelessness – When more than one person is at fault, the degree of their carelessness comes into play in determining how the case will resolve.
Determining who is at fault in an accident, requires careful consideration of these things plus anything else the attorney recommends. Where the person at fault is not entirely clear, this is when a really good attorney is an absolute necessity.