Who Determines Fault in a Car Accident?
When you have a car accident, the first thing you may say is that the accident wasn’t your fault. It's an instinct, which people looking back often don't understand. Unfortunately, the other driver or drivers probably say the same thing.
Determining who is at fault in a car accident comes down to one thing: negligence. All drivers have a responsibility to obey traffic rules and not harm pedestrians or other drivers. Negligence is when a driver acts in a thoughtless or careless way that causes harm to someone else. For example, if the driver fails to stop for a red light or yield, he or she behaved in a careless or thoughtless manner.
Who Determines Fault?
The answer depends on if the cause is litigated or not. If the case goes to court, a judge or jury determines fault in the case. They are charged with deciding who is liable or at fault for the car accident. If a lawsuit isn’t filed, then the insurance company who pays the claim decides who was at fault. For instance, a claims adjuster will study the circumstances of the accident. Then a car accident lawyer continues the process from there. Accident attorneys in big cities are especially familiar with this process due to the high accident rates in these areas.
A jury or judge takes a lot of factors into consideration before determining who is at fault for the car accident starting with traffic laws. For instance, he or she may have been drunk at the time of the accident or was:
- Not properly watching traffic while driving.
- Not driving at a reasonable speed.
- Not maintaining control of the vehicle.
- Driving on the wrong side of the road.
In addition, the judge or jury looks at negligent factors such as:
- Not showing reasonable care while driving. Many city and state laws require each driver to be careful when driving. If this care isn't given, then he or she is one step closer to being at fault for the accident.
- Did you show more reasonable care than the other driver?
- Did the other driver’s actions cause the accident?
- Were you injured or suffer some loss?
Often, who is at fault is broken down into percentages. The "victim" can be held 20% at fault, for example and only therefore receive 80% of settlement or court costs.
Debbie is suing Bob for causing her car accident. She claims that he rear-ended her car. As a result, she suffered whiplash. If Debbie suffered whiplash the day before the accident because she was on a rollercoaster ride, she’d have a difficult time claiming the injury was caused by the accident. However, if she did not suffer any injury prior to the car accident, she may have a substantial claim.
Understanding More about Determining Fault
Anyone in a car accident can hire an attorney who can take them through the steps of fault, partial fault or negligence. Because there are so many factors involved, determining what caused an accident can be difficult.
Sometimes, when the insurance company or other driver knows there is too much evidence of fault, they will settle. This means that you receive money without going to trial and that's helpful for putting the pain and the inconvenience behind you.
Gina Coleman is a freelance writer who enjoys the challenge of contributing unique content across the web. She writes on a variety of subjects from marketing to technology. When not in front of the computer doing research, you can find her curled up with a good book.
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