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How Is Fault Determined in a Car Accident?

Car accidents can be very stressful and very scary—and those feelings often don’t end once the car comes to a halt. Whether you experience a small fender bender or a serious accident, it’s easy to feel rattled for a long time afterward. Unfortunately, this can apply whether the accident was your fault or someone else’s.

After you experience a car accident, there is much to be determined before the nightmare comes to a close. For example, the at-fault driver’s insurance company often won’t pay until they are sure their client is responsible for the crash. If the circumstances of the accident are unclear, both insurance companies involved may argue about which needs to pay. This process often leaves victims in limbo, waiting to pay their medical and car repair bills from the accident.

Determining Fault

The key to settling a car accident case is determining fault. Insurance companies must know who was responsible for the accident, so they know who needs to pay for the damage. However, determining who is to blame can be a difficult process. There are many factors to consider, and proof can be scarce.

Fortunately, you and your attorney can help expedite this step. By assembling certain information after your accident, you can help the process to move more rapidly and give yourself the best chance of receiving the compensation that you deserve. Take time to consider the following ways to demonstrate fault.

Photos from the Scene

After an auto accident, one of the best things you can do is take photos of your surroundings, your injuries, and the damage from the accident. Once the scene has been cleared, it is difficult to recreate what happened. When you provide photos, you can help show what really occurred, allowing your attorney to prove your innocence and demonstrate the other party’s fault to the insurance companies.

Drivers’ Statements

There are many factors aside from photos that go into determining fault after a car accident. Statements from the drivers is another key piece of evidence that is considered. If one driver apologizes following the accident, the insurance companies often use the statement as an admission of guilt. Similarly, if a driver begins to explain why they executed a maneuver causing the accident, the statement can be construed as an admission of fault. This is why it is so important to say as little as possible after a car accident—anything you say may be used to hold you financially accountable.

CCTV and Traffic Camera Footage

Attorneys may assemble CCTV or security footage from surrounding businesses if fault cannot be determined through other evidence. Traffic cameras are another potential source of real-time accident footage. Video can help give a clear picture of what happened at the scene and who may have made the mistake that caused the accident.

Police Reports

If the police arrived at the accident scene, their report may help attorneys to see who was at fault for the crash. Law enforcement personnel have a great deal of experience with auto accidents and can sometimes determine what occurred. Their report may show which party was at fault.

Determining Fault Is an Imperfect Process

Of course, determining fault in a car accident case is not an exact science. The process depends on the information available as well as the circumstances surrounding the accident and the scene afterward. This is one reason it is so important to have an expert attorney on your side following a car accident.

Proving fault can take a great deal of time, effort, and research. Especially when you must round up witness statements and traffic cam footage, it can be difficult to do on your own. When you work with an attorney, they can make sure the process goes smoothly and explore all possible avenues.

Why Is Fault Important?

Many people wonder why so much time and effort is invested in determining fault. Unfortunately, this is mostly due to the way insurance companies operate and their unwillingness to pay if they can avoid doing so. California is an at-fault state, meaning the guilty party’s insurance must pay for the damages in the accident, including medical bills and car repair fees. Of course, in order for this to happen, the insurance companies must know who is at fault.

California is also a comparative negligence state, meaning that even if a driver is 99% responsible for causing the incident, they may still request 1% compensation for their damages. After an auto accident with more than one at-fault party, it is important to determine each party’s fault so the appropriate compensation can be determined. However, with more at-fault parties, determining fault becomes even more complex.

This is just one of the reasons you need an attorney, even after a relatively minor car accident. You don’t want to be left without vital financial support if the insurance companies can’t settle on who is at fault.

Attorneys and Insurance

During their battle to avoid payment, insurance companies often engage in predatory tactics to make victims pay for their own medical bills and car repair expenses. They may try to coerce you into making a statement about what happened, with the intention of catching you in an admission of guilt or discrepancy. They may also have you followed by a private investigator to verify that your daily activities are consistent with your injuries. In doing so, they aim to use anything you do as proof that you are lying about your injuries, and they shouldn’t have to pay.

Of course, these tactics are invasive and appalling. However, they are legal, and insurance companies frequently use them to avoid paying. Your best protection against these tactics is to hire a skilled personal injury attorney. We can field all phone calls and correspondence from insurance companies to ensure that you do not inadvertently implicate yourself. We can also advise you regarding any further actions you should take to protect yourself and your family from invasions of your privacy. If the insurance company attempts to lengthen the claims process, we can help to move it along.

Contact Peach & Weathers

The team at Peach & Weathers has extensive experience proving fault after car accidents, as well as a strong track record of navigating insurance claims for our clients. Our firm knows how quickly a small accident can turn into a nightmare, so we will do everything in our power to ensure you receive the compensation you need to recover.

For more information about Peach & Weathers or how we can help you, please contact an attorney via our website today.

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