How to Determine Fault in a Car Accident
In most vehicle accidents, the question of “how can you tell who hit who in a car accident” is determined fairly quickly by law enforcement. Speeding and negligent/reckless driving are the most common causes of accidents, followed by distracted driving and impaired driving. Sometimes, the at-fault driver will admit they are responsible without prompting by police. Other scenarios demand an investigation by accident specialists to determine who is the at-fault driver, especially when accidents involve multiple cars, intersections, or three-way stops.
How Can You Tell Who Hit Who in a Car Accident: Methods of Determining Fault
How Police Determine Fault
- They Talk to All Drivers Involved in the Accident
A police officer will talk to each driver separately, compare their stories and then deduce who may be the likely at-fault driver. Police can also find out if a driver is intoxicated while interviewing them or if the driver may have suffered a medical emergency at the time of the accident.
If drivers need immediate emergency medical treatment, officers will talk later to them later at the hospital and get official statements.
- They Talk to Individuals Witnessing the Crash
Witnesses to a car accident in which both drivers deny responsibility can tell police exactly what they saw before and during the crash. For example, if one driver claims they were not speeding when they rear-ended another car, a witness can verify that, yes, they were speeding and rammed into the back of a car without attempting to brake.
Additionally, a witness may also be able to inform police of a driver’s erratic driving before the crash. They may provide information about who was actually driving (a driver may switch seats with a passenger because they don’t have a driver’s license) or validate one driver’s story after comparing it to another driver’s story.
- Examining Vehicle Damage
In most cases, seasoned police officers can tell who is at fault by examining where a car is damaged and how badly it is damaged. For example, Driver A claims he did not run a stop sign and hit Driver B’s side back panel. Driver A claims the damage was already there and that he missed hitting Driver B’s car due to his quick reflexes.
However, after evaluating the big dent on Driver B’s side panel, the police officer knows Driver A is lying because the dent is fresh and free of corrosion. In addition, Driver B is extremely shook up and obviously traumatized by being blind-sided by Driver A.
Determining how can you tell who hit you in a car accident is more complicated when more than two vehicles are involved. Gathering witnesses accounts, interviewing drivers multiple times when statements aren’t consistent and having a professional accident evaluator canvass the scene is often necessary for multi-car crashes.
- Obtain Footage from Private or Public Video Surveillance
Accidents occurring in urban or residential areas are often captured by home or business video cameras. Car accidents filmed from start to finish are the best type of evidence police want to determine what exactly happened and who caused the crash.
- Evaluation of Physical Evidence
Examples of physical evidence include tire skid marks, car paint on another car and even empty alcohol bottles littering a vehicle’s floor. In addition, when drivers or passengers sustain injuries, the severity and location of bodily injuries may help police determine how fast the other car was going and where the at-fault driver struck the other vehicle. Passengers in a car that was T-boned at an intersection may suffer more serious injuries than the driver if the at-fault driver slammed into the passenger’s side of the car.
- Police Reports
Contrary to popular belief, police reports do not state who is responsible for a car accident. Instead, police reports are objective documents detailing only the facts, such as road conditions at the time of the accident, driver’s names and ages, passenger’s names and ages, driver’s license numbers, etc. Police reports help law enforcement, courts and insurance agencies determine who is at fault. They do not assign liability to a driver.
How Do Insurance Companies Determine Fault in a Car Accident?
Auto insurance companies aren’t in the business to cheerfully pay any claim that gets sent to them. If it appears a policy holder is an at-fault driver, they will have insurance adjusters thoroughly investigate the accident. In some cases, it is the job of an insurance adjuster to find ways to minimize fault for the purpose of reducing or eliminating a payout.
Adjusters examine police reports, driver and witness statements, vehicle damage, weather conditions and any other factors concerning the accident. For example, if the victim of an at-fault driver claims their car was totaled, insurance adjusters representing the at-fault driver will likely claim the car isn’t totaled. They may assert the car can actually be repaired for less than what the car is worth totaled.
How Can You Determine Who Hit Who in a Car Accident: Tips
If you or someone you know has suffered damages or injuries due to the negligent driving of another, do not talk to the at-fault driver’s car insurance company before consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney. Remember, auto insurance agents are trained to reduce or even negate a compensation payout on behalf of their clients. Car accident lawyers know how to handle insurance companies to optimize compensation packages for injured accident victims.
Distracted driving, speeding and driving while intoxicated are the leading causes of vehicle crashes in the United States. If you suffered physical injuries due to the negligent or reckless driving of another road user, hire a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to begin the processing of making you whole again.
Our lawyers have helped thousands of injured drivers and their passengers get the justice they deserve. We may be able to obtain compensation to pay for medical bills, lost wages and other expenses arising from your accident.