If you’re involved in a car accident, it’s understandable to panic. You may also likely be in shock and require medical attention. And as your jitters run high while investigators flock to ask what happened, everything will be confusing. On your part, it may be difficult to tell who’s the erring driver. For the other party, it’s probably just as complicated.
In most cases, it’s hard to pinpoint who’s at fault in a car accident that involves two or multiple drivers, especially if there are no witnesses. The investigator will need help to identify who should pay for the damages. It may also happen that witnesses are hard to find and there’s not enough proof to help figure out which driver is responsible for the accident. In such cases, an in-depth investigation will be necessary.
The No-Fault Vs. At-Fault Rule
The determining factors that decide which driver is at fault differ in every state. In states that enforce the no-fault rule, the drivers whose cars got damaged in the incident can’t sue the motorists at fault. In states that implement the at-fault law, the driver responsible for causing the accident will pay for the damages. However, in at-fault states, if the investigators can’t determine who’s responsible for the accident, they will consider all involved drivers as at fault. If this is the case, both drivers will split the fault evenly.
The 50/50 Fault
In cases of split fault, authorities will assess the fault distribution between the drivers involved. It could be 70:30, 50:50, and so on. In states that follow the at-fault ruling and comparative negligence, the party entitled to receive payments for damages is the one with lesser fault. However, in other states, both parties can receive payments or settlement for damages. While there are factors that help determine who’s at fault in vehicular accidents, it’s still a complex process for anyone who has no background in law. That’s why it’s always a good decision to seek legal services to understand the depth of the situation, to decide if you can sue for a car accident, and to figure out the next steps to take.
Who Determines Fault?
1. Proofs, Testimonies, And Witnesses
If the fault is not apparent at the accident scene, a closed-circuit television (CCTV) recording that may have caught the incident can help produce a useful footage. By analyzing the footage, investigators may be able identify the driver responsible in the incident. Statements from witnesses and other evidences taken from the scene can also help in this matter.
2. Insurance Company
Both of the involved cars’ insurance companies may also decide who is at fault in the accident. If you’re one of the drivers involved in the accident, both insurance companies would assess your vehicle. Your behavior will be discussed in comparison with the other driver’s behavior. Usually, both drivers’ behavior prior to the accident are investigated. Aggressive behavior usually turns the tables down for hot-headed drivers. On the other hand, if you’re a defensive and relaxed type of driver, you’re more likely to have the upper hand.
3. Claims Investigator
A claims investigator will also assess the vehicular and personal damages incurred to determine the extent of responsibility or liability based on the factors that affect the accident. In general, the claims investigator will base his decisions on the state’s laws. The state law will also help the investigator get a better sense of which driver indeed acted recklessly.
Who Pays For The Damages?
In some instances, insurance companies may pay for a particular portion of the insured driver’s share.
To get the picture, here’s an example:
ABC Insurance has a driver who’s 70% at-fault. On the other hand, DEF Insurance has a driver who’s 30% at-fault. ABC Insurance may pay 70% of the damages, while DEF Insurance pays the remaining 30%.
Clients may get help from their claims adjusters to determine the appropriate damage payments for each driver involved. Negotiations may also be done to get a low portion of fault. However, if there’s no agreement between the insurance adjuster and the driver, the decision will be then given to the court to determine who’s indeed at fault.
After The Incident
Car accidents can be complicated, which is why dealing with it ideally requires legal knowledge even in cases that aren’t serious. It would always help to call a car accident lawyer. Do it as soon as possible to make sure that you can exercise your rights from the beginning, especially when insurance companies start to take statements from you to get the lowest settlement possible. Stay quiet when asked by insurance companies and seek legal and professional help to make sure you don’t get the short end of the stick.