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Who Is at Fault for Your Car Accident?

Man Crying on Damaged Auto After Car Crash — Fayetteville, NC — Britt Carl L Jr

The party at fault for a collision isn’t always straightforward. Many states have complicated systems for assigning responsibility and can allocate a percentage of blame to each party. Find out more about the process of determining car accident fault below.

Why Is It Important to Identify the At-Fault Driver?

In most states, the party responsible for an auto accident pays the other driver for damages. Therefore, insurance companies must identify the at-fault driver to know who covers the injured party’s damages. 

If you were injured and the other driver is 100% responsible, their insurance company is responsible for your compensation. However, you and the other driver may have both been in the wrong, and a percentage of the fault is assigned to each party.

In some states, the driver who is 51% or more at fault pays all the damages for the other driver. In other regions, every driver’s insurer only covers the percentage of compensation equal to their share of responsibility. However, in North Carolina, you cannot receive compensation if you were even 1% at fault for the accident.

How Is Fault Determined?

Determining fault in a car accident involves many parties, including the drivers, insurers, and police.

Based on Your Actions After the Accident

Tensions are often high after an auto accident. The drivers accuse each other of being in the wrong. However, don’t admit guilt, even if you think you caused the accident. 

If you admit fault, the other driver’s insurer may use it against you, and you may be responsible for covering the damages. Instead, take pictures of the scene, exchange insurance information with the other driver, get witnesses’ contact information, and consult an attorney.

Based on the Police Report

Police typically show up at car accident scenes, analyze the situation, and determine which party the responding officer thinks is at fault. The officer may draw a diagram of the position of the cars, note the extent of car damage, and look for skid marks to identify the speeding driver. 

In some cases, police officers give citations for drunk driving, texting while driving, and other violations at the accident scene. The police report will help you prove the other driver was at fault. In fact, most insurers wait for the account before they start processing liability claims.

Ask the responding officer about the report number and the process for obtaining a copy as they leave the scene. If you spot a mistake in the report, contact the station and inform them about your objections.

Based on Any Traffic Law Violations

Police and insurers find it easy to determine fault if either driver violated a traffic law. For example, if the driver who hit your car ran a red light and collided with you at an intersection, you will easily show they were at fault. 

Common violations in car accidents include speeding, drunk driving, failure to yield at a stop sign, and driving the wrong way. The interpretations of state traffic laws vary with time, and you should consult an attorney if you think the other driver committed a traffic offense. 

Based on the Type of Accident

Rear-end collisions usually occur due to distracted driving or following the car in front too closely. Generally, the other driver is at fault if they hit your car from the back. These accidents can cause severe physical and vehicle damage because the driver in front doesn’t see the collision coming. However, rear-end collisions aren’t always clear-cut, and your attorney investigates the specific details of your case.

If a driver makes a left turn and collides with another party, the former is generally to blame since the other motorist has the right of way. However, some liability may shift to an oncoming driver who runs a red light or is speeding. So don’t admit fault in left-hand turn collisions and wait to speak to an auto accident attorney.

If you were in an auto collision and are unsure if you were at fault, contact us today at Carl L Britt, Jr, Attorney at Law, for a prompt review of your case. 

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