Who is at Fault in an Accident?
How Do You Determine Who Was At Fault During a Car Accident
Every day, we talk to clients who have been involved in varied types of accidents, and they often ask how fault is determined. That determination really happens in a couple of distinct stages. Insurance companies attribute and determine the level of fault between themselves. If they can’t agree, they go through an intercompany arbitration process to determine what portion of each element of the case they will take – such as property damage that occurred at an intersection when two people claim they had the red light, or the green light, or a stop sign. That’s one step.
We’re not bound by their determination because they don’t usually go to the lengths we do when conducting an investigation. We take photos, interview witnesses, inspect the points of impact on the vehicles, and review the photos and the repair estimates for each vehicle. When an insurance company does that, it is really a pretty cursory review – a determination made without what we would consider a full investigation. A number of factors must be taken into consideration when apportioning fault.
The insurance companies do that from their perspective, but we, as your attorneys, attempt to do that for you. We look to the other driver and any others involved in an incident to determine what they should have done. For example, even if no vehicle and traffic law was violated, did they violate a known safety rule? Did they fail to look both ways before pulling out of a parking lot, for example? No vehicle and traffic law says that specifically, but drivers are not allowed to merge into traffic or cross over lanes without first making sure of clear access. In order to determine whether it’s clear, one must look both ways.
We evaluate situations, and actions, and other things when the insurance company doesn’t go much deeper than just checking events against traditional vehicle and traffic laws that may be considered the basic go-to guidelines. Many factors can contribute to a determination of who was at fault and – if the fault is shared – how much is attributable to each party.