How to Determine Fault in a Car Accident

how to determine fault in a car accident

Car accidents can be emotionally unnerving, especially if many cars were involved. Although it may be the last thing on your mind, the best time to determine fault is at the scene of the accident. Figuring out which party is at fault right away will make resolving issues after the accident much easier because there will probably be repair costs that the “at fault” party must pay. Leaving doubt as to which party played a major role in the cause of the collision will only add confusion to the process later on.

How to Determine Fault in a Car Accident

Remain calm and respectful at the scene of the accident. Whether or not the accident was your fault, try to help any victims and respect the other party. Keeping the situation under control signals to witnesses and authorities that you are responsible and will ultimately help determine who is at fault more easily.

Resist any desire to admit that the accident was your fault. If the other parties or witnesses try to provoke you into admitting wrongdoing, step away until the authorities arrive. The last thing you want is to be caught on video or tape admitting fault, apologizing, or recounting any wrongdoing on your part.

Gather evidence at the scene with your phone. Take pictures of the accident, as well as videos. Look for street signs or the layout of the roadways and document everything you can. This will help your insurance company (and your attorney) determine who is at fault.

Police don’t always come to the site of car accidents, but if your collision is big enough, an officer will probably have to make some sort of official report. Be sure to get the names of officers at the scene, the precinct number, and even their badge number. Ask them how to get access to a copy of the report when it is ready. The report will definitely be a factor in determining who is at fault by the insurance companies on all sides.

The type of accident and the position of cars also give clues as to who may be at fault. For example, rear-end collisions are one of the most common types of accidents and the vehicle in the rear is usually at fault. This is because vehicles are supposed to leave enough room between their own car and the vehicle directly in front to navigate safely away from a dangerous situation. If the front car stops suddenly and the rear car still ends up hitting it, they probably weren’t driving safely.

Insurance companies will carry out their own investigations, but the more information you can provide, the better the chance of a favorable outcome. If dealing with insurance companies is too intimidating for you, consider hiring an attorney to represent you.