Determining who is at fault following a collision is typically a matter of identifying who was careless or negligent. It is often easy to tell which party was responsible for any property damages or injuries that may have occurred; however, it can sometimes be difficult to determine who was truly at fault. Making things even more complicated is the fact that multiple parties may make different determinations of fault following an accident, including law enforcement agencies, insurance companies and the courts.
Here are a few ways in which fault is determined by various parties:
How Police Determine Who is at Fault in a Car Accident
When a car accident occurs and is reported to the police, officers are responsible for creating a police report in regards to what happened. A police officer will interview the drivers involved and any witnesses about the accident, asking a series of questions designed to put together a picture of what transpired. Once it is decided that they have enough information, they will submit the report to their department. This report may indicate who was at fault based on the officer’s judgement, but many reports don’t include a determination of fault. Even though a report may indicate that one person was at fault for the accident, this does not necessarily mean that they will be held liable for damages in a lawsuit.
How Insurance Companies Determine Who is at Fault in a Car Accident
When a claim is filed with an insurance company following an accident, the company assigns the claim to an adjustor. The adjustor’s role is to oversee the investigation into the accident and the settlement of the claim. There is usually more than one adjustor involved in this process as both driver’s insurance companies will have their own adjustor. Adjustors research the accident, speak with witnesses, view medical reports, examine vehicle damage, and verify details about the insurance policies of the drivers involved. Ultimately, the adjustors will determine who was at fault, often assigning a percentage of fault to each driver. The insurance companies will divide the costs of the accident based on this percentage, and compensate the drivers according to the terms of their policies.
How Courts Determine Who is at Fault in a Car Accident
If you file a lawsuit following a car accident attempting to recover money for your injuries or damages to your vehicle, the court will determine who was at fault by considering whether or not the defendant was negligent. A person is considered negligent when he or she fails to take reasonable caution given the circumstances. Courts will consider arguments given from both parties’ lawyers, as well as evidence presented by them. This can include testimony from both drivers involved as well as, witnesses, police officers, and experts involved such as doctors and accident reconstruction specialists.
It is important to note that police reports and findings made by insurance companies do not determine the outcome of a court case. Some evidence, such as police reports, will not be used as they are generally considered hearsay.
If you would like to learn more about auto insurance provided by Will Marshall Insurance Brokers, do not hesitate to contact us online or give us a call at 705-726-2551.