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Determining Who Is at Fault in an Auto Accident

 

Determining who is legally responsible in an auto accident requires identifying who the negligent party is.  In most cases, common sense can be used to determine fault, but often drivers don’t know which laws were broken. This makes it more difficult to prove a case to an insurer when making a claim.

The best source will usually be a police report.  Always call police if there have been injuries. Many police reports contain a responding officer's opinion about who was at fault.

If one party clearly violated any laws, the officer will write that in the report.

If the police won’t come out, then visit the police station and file a report.

If the accident happens on private property (a shopping mall for example) take pictures of the damages and the scene of the accident including how the cars are positioned.

In some accidents, the other driver is almost always considered at fault. For example, if another motorist hits the back of your car, they are  typically considered at fault because it’s likely they were following too close.

One of the basic rules of the road in every state is that a driver shouldn’t be following too closely.  That said, for drivers who are rear-ended, there are still a few situations where their carelessness is a contributing factor to the accident.

If an investigation finds  you ignored mechanical issues, say your brake lights were out, you may be guilty of contributory negligence. This could reduce the amount of compensation you receive.

 
Frances Zettl