How to Prove Fault & Liability for Car Accidents

When there is a multi-car accident, in most cases, at least one of the drivers is considered to be at fault through carelessness or negligence. Regardless if the state is a “fault” or “no fault” state, car accidents usually happen when someone does something wrong, i.e., is at fault. In every case, insurance companies and lawyers will look at the evidence to try to determine which party or what road hazard caused the accident. If you can prove the other person caused the accident, your claim is strengthened. Your proof of fault can be generated by any of a number of supporting pieces of evidence.

What is Fault?

For purposes of supporting a claim that someone else caused an accident, fault is generally defined as negligent behavior or carelessness that directly resulted in the accident. The actual act of negligent behavior can also be traced back to several possible sources besides the driver of the other car. In some accidents, the actual cause of the crash is a defective part, such as a brake failure, tire blowout or other equipment defect.

Fault & Car Accidents

According to recent statistics compiled by the National Traffic Safety Administration, driver error is the cause of most accidents. Other causes include defective parts, roadway conditions and weather. They also report that 25% of driver error accidents involved some use of cell phones, either talking or texting on these devices. Lack of attention for even a few seconds can result in a car accident. Drivers believe they can multi-task, but this is a big mistake when they are driving and need all their thoughts to be on the road ahead and their driving tasks.

Negligence & Liability

When there is a car accident, two things are examined: liability and negligence. A driver is expected to exhibit a reasonable duty of care to avoid harming others. It is possible to have more than one driver who is liable or who was negligent.

  • Liability is defined in local, state and federal laws. It is a method for assigning responsibility for the accident, or who caused this accident. This is taken into account when an insurance company decides whether to pay for an accident caused by their policy holder. This concept also can be used during litigation to defend or prosecute someone. If you are liable, you pay for damages.
  • Negligence occurs when someone fails to take reasonable care to act in a manner that protects others. When driving, negligent behavior is seen when someone fails to obey traffic laws, does not yield to others, runs red lights, makes illegal turns, uses a cell phone or does other activity that causes an accident. It essentially is carelessness, not paying full attention to driving their car.
  • Responsibility – Some states have “comparative negligence” policies, while others have “contributory negligence” policies. The determining factor here is whether a driver was partially at fault for the accident. With comparative negligence, awards may be reduced by the fault portion. When there is a contributory negligence policy, a driver who is has even a small percentage of fault assigned to them will collect nothing. Most states use the comparative negligence model today.

Finding Evidence to Prove Fault

Your car accident attorney will work diligently to find evidence to prove fault when you are pursuing claims under personal injury laws to recover fair compensation for accident expenses and losses. Evidence can be gathered from a number of sources.

  • Police Report – This is likely the first place to find evidence of fault. If there is any mention of fault or breaking a traffic law in the police report, it supports the claim of negligence. The report may also show when a citation was issued or contain an officer’s statement about negligent behavior.
  • State Traffic Laws – The state vehicle code may contain rules of the road that apply to your accident. Examples would be speeding limits, duty to yield right-of-way and other driving rules.
  • Type of Accident – In certain accidents, there is no doubt which driver is at fault. These include: rear-end collisions and left-turn accidents. With rear-end collisions, the driver behind is almost always determined to be at fault, because they did not drive at a speed that allows them to stop in time. There are some exceptions, such as when a third car pushes another into the car ahead. With the left-turn accidents, the driver making the turn would be at fault in a crash with another car going straight in the opposite direction. There are exceptions here, also, if the other car was speeding, ran a red light, or there was some hazard that causing the turning car to slow down.

Your Car Accident Attorney

Being involved in a car accident is a stressful situation, especially when you are not at fault. An accident may result in high financial costs for medical care, work loss and property damage. Personal Injury Law allows you to seek fair compensation for claims resulting from a car accident due to negligent behavior by another driver or if a parts failure caused the accident.

When you work with an experienced car accident attorney, they will examine all the evidence to find proof of fault. They may have expert witnesses recreate the accident scene, gather all needed reports, interview eye-witnesses and dig deep to find the needed support for your case. In some cases, there are multiple responsible parties who would be liable for damage claims.

Your car accident attorney will put all their experience and knowledge to work for you. You will not get the same action from your insurance agent, because they are not working for you. Insurance companies want to settle for the least amount of compensation. Your own attorney will work diligently to obtain the maximum amounts possible for settlement or court award. Make sure you get the justice and fairness you deserve by proving fault for your car accident.