Did you know that there are more than 179,000 people working as personal injury attorneys in the United States? When people suffer from injuries in motor vehicle accidents, they often turn to personal injury attorneys to help them receive compensation for their damages. Since 2018, the personal injury lawyer market has been growing by about 3.4% every year.
On the other hand, some people don’t bother hiring a personal injury lawyer after an accident because they do not realize that there is anything they can do about the damages they have suffered. However, if the other driver is at fault, then it may be their responsibility to help you pay for your medical expenses or other damages.
But how can you know who is at fault after a serious motor vehicle accident? Courts sometimes have to spend days or weeks figuring out who is at fault in a car crash. However, there are still some basic rules you can use to assess who is at fault.
Read on to learn all about how to determine who is at fault in an accident and what that can mean for your legal situation!
Different Levels of Vehicle Accident Fault
When it comes to determining fault in car crashes, many people assume that one driver or the other is at fault and there is nothing more to it. However, many car accidents are the result of a combination of factors. That can make it more difficult to figure out who is at fault and what it even means for one driver to be at fault.
For example, what happens if one driver is distracted with their phone when another driver hits them? The other driver may be at fault for causing the accident directly. However, the distracted driver may also have some responsibility for the crash.
Depending on the other details of the situation, a court might find that the distracted driver bears 20% of the fault while the other driver bears 80% of it.
In some states, that means that even though the other driver was responsible for most of the accident, they will not need to cover any of the damages the distracted driver suffered. In other states, this shared responsibility means that the distracted driver can still sue for damages, but not for as much as if the other driver were 100% responsible.
In still other states, whichever driver is more responsible will be treated as if they were 100% responsible for the accident.
Other Fault Cases
However, these are only the possibilities available when one driver bears most but not all of the fault. What if one driver is 100% responsible for the accident?
For example, a driver might hit a car from behind while it is stopped at a red light. In this instance, the victim would generally not bear any responsibility at all for the accident.
In such cases, the responsible driver would often need to provide compensation to help cover the damages suffered by the victim. If they refuse to do so, then the victim might have legal standing to take the other party to court and sue for damages.
The last situation to consider is when the fault is shared exactly equally between two drivers. In these cases, neither party will be able to sue the other for damages.
Determining Fault in a Car Accident on the Spot
So, now we know a little bit about the different levels of fault a driver might hold after an accident. But how can you tell whether or not a driver is at fault? The easiest way to determine who is at fault is if one driver admits that they are at fault.
This is not as rare as you might think. After an accident, the drivers may end up discussing what happened. In some cases, they will argue about it for a while until one driver admits that they caused the accident.
In other cases, one driver will be apologetic and admit fault for the accident without any arguing or prompting. In these cases, it is also more likely that the responsible driver will be willing to help pay for the damages suffered by the victim.
However, if they are not willing to do so, the victim may need to sue for compensation in court if they want any help with car repairs or medical expenses.
Sometimes, drivers do not admit to guilt on the spot, but there is still a lot you can do on the spot to later affect who is found to be responsible for the crash.
Gathering Evidence After an Accident
Right after an accident occurs, there will be a lot more evidence about the accident. Many people do not realize that evidence often has a short shelf life and can disappear as time passes.
The exact position of your cars can provide a lot of evidence for a court trying to figure out what happened. When possible, it is often a good idea to gather as much evidence about a car crash as possible before things change too much. This can include taking a general video of the scene of the accident.
It can help to record the position of both cars as well as any damage done to them. It is also helpful to take pictures or record a video of any signs of the accident in the environment. For example, if you see tire marks on the road or a dent in a pole or other object nearby, you should include that in your pictures or video.
The same applies to the injuries that you or anyone else suffered in the accident. Injuries often change in appearance a lot as time passes. Getting a picture of how they looked right after the accident can provide invaluable evidence for a court.
How the Police Determine Fault
When the police arrive, they will follow their own process of gathering evidence. Hopefully, the cars will still be in the same position as right after the accident. The police may also use more involved techniques to gather and analyze evidence in a more sophisticated way.
If the evidence you gather is not enough to prove who is at fault in your accident, the analysis of the police may be enough to make up the difference. For example, the police might create a diagram of the scene of the accident. They might then analyze each aspect of the accident and use investigative techniques to recreate what happened.
Sometimes, the police do not need to figure out exactly what happened to provide enough evidence to determine who is at fault. Many courts will consider lies to be strong evidence of guilt or untrustworthiness.
If the police can obtain a partial picture of what happened, they may then attempt to question the involved drivers. If the guilty driver denies certain facts that the police or you can prove, that may help determine that they are at fault if you take the case to court.
In other cases, responsible drivers will admit their guilt once they realize that there is enough evidence to prevent them from making things up.
All of this can come in handy even if you do not decide to take your motor vehicle accident case to court. The report that the police will compile will also go to the car insurance companies of the involved drivers.
How Insurance Companies Relate to Fault
Insurance companies use police reports to help them decide who is at fault in car accidents. They then use this information to determine whether they will cover the expenses related to an accident.
If you have your own pictures or video of any relevant evidence, your insurance company will likely also want to view it. In some cases, insurance companies will also want to hear the testimonies of any eyewitness accounts that can be found.
The police may do what they can to collect the accounts of eyewitnesses if any are available at the time. In some cases, auto accident lawyers can also help their clients find eyewitnesses that the police do not interview.
The Relationship Between Fault and Damages
If you are considering taking the other driver to court after an accident, you should understand the relationship between fault and damages. In some car accidents, there is very little damage done or even no damage at all.
In such cases, it does not matter much who is at fault. Without damages, there is no legal standing to take someone to court even if they are responsible for a car crash.
What if the Other Driver Is at Fault?
However, if you do suffer damages to your vehicle or injuries after an accident that the other driver is at fault for, you might be able to win a case against them in court. This may even be necessary if the other driver denies what happened or is unwilling to help with the injuries they have caused.
However, it can be difficult to know for sure if you have a strong case or not. That is why it is often so important to find an auto accident lawyer to speak with.
Get Clarity With an Auto Accident Lawyer
Some people do not bother finding a car accident lawyer because they are not sure if they want to take a case to court. However, a quality auto accident attorney can help you analyze your situation.
If it turns out that you do not have a strong case, they can tell you that so that you can stop even considering legal action.
On the other hand, they might tell you that you have a great case with a strong chance of winning in court. If so, they can also help you understand what kind of compensation you might be able to receive.
Sometimes, the amount you are likely to win in court is not enough to justify the time and effort involved in a legal case. In other cases, you might be able to receive significant compensation that can help a lot with the damages you have suffered.
You might also want to work with an auto accident lawyer if you need help with your insurance company. If they are refusing to cover your expenses, they might be hoping you will give up. However, your insurance company will be more likely to pay for as much of your damages as they should if they see that you have a lawyer helping you.
Finding the Right Lawyer for Your Situation
If you decide to get the help of a car accident lawyer, you will have many choices to consider. However, it often helps to look at reviews and ratings online to find lawyers who have satisfied their clients in the past.
In general, the more experience a lawyer has, the better. However, you should try to find a lawyer with a lot of experience in cases similar to your own. That means finding an attorney who has dedicated a significant amount of their career to car accident cases.
You can check out alphaaccidentlawyers.com to learn more about the legal options available to you after a car accident.
Understand Who Is at Fault in Motor Vehicle Accidents
Not everyone in motor vehicle accidents has any idea what they can do after suffering damages in an accident. However, knowing a little bit more about how you can determine who is at fault can help you decide on the right strategy to proceed with. If the other driver is at fault, then it might make sense for you to sue for compensation to cover your damages.
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