Determining who’s at fault in road traffic accidents

Posted By on Feb 9, 2016 |


321

It can be difficult determining who was liable for a car accident. Liability usually means proving if someone has been careless or negligent enough to have caused an accident.

The reason this can sometimes be difficult for traffic accidents is that there may be many laws or rules which you may be unaware of. Normally common sense will tell you that a driver, cyclist or pedestrian acted carelessly but there may be laws/ rules which you are unaware of.

It is important to determine who was at fault in an accident in order for the victim to receive suitable amount of compensation. Compensation will be given for any personal injury sustained in the accident which will include the cost of medical bills, lost wages and any other expenses from the relevant insurance company.

Make your case as strong as possible

Should you find yourself in a dispute, putting forward an argument with “official support” will strengthen your case. Here we look at different places to look for this information.

Police at the scene

Some accidents require police assistance especially if people have received serious personal injury. If police were called for any reason to the accident you were in, they will have written up police reports. To acquire copies of the reports from your accident speak to your local law enforcement agency.

Police reports can vary on how detailed they are. Some will go into great detail and can even have a police officer’s opinion on who caused the accident.  Others will merely state what happened at the time of the accident and details of negligent behaviour.

Any such report can be of great help in proving who was at fault and will be good support for your case.

Relevant laws

State traffic laws govern the roads and everyone that drives on them. Be sure to research these because they could provide much needed support for your case should the other driver have broken them.

Each states statutes will include these rules of the road. These rules are usually called the ‘Vehicle Code’ and they can slightly differ between states.

To obtain a copy of these laws or rules of the roads, pay a visit to your local department of motor vehicles office where a copy should be made available. If not check out your nearest public library or law library.

Alternatively follow this link to check out state by state traffic laws and driver guidelines or the Governors Highway Safety Association. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when looking for relevant laws which could help you with your case. They can be very complex and you may even require the assistance of an attorney.

In these guidelines look for things which may apply to the accident in question. For example:-

  • Speed limits
  • Right of way
  • Roadway markings

Accidents in which the other driver is at fault

There are some accidents which leave no doubt as to who was at fault in an accident. Insurance companies won’t even try to dispute these.

Hits from behind

Often known as ‘rear end collisions’, these are traffic accidents which involve a vehicle crashing into the vehicle in front. There are many reasons why rear end collisions happen. The most common cause of personal injury caused by rear end collisions is whiplash.

In almost all cases the driver of the vehicle that crashes into the rear end of another vehicle is considered to be at fault. One exception of this rule is if the driver of that car is in reverse gear.

It is important to bear in mind that even if you have been rear-ended, there are still a few circumstances which could find you at fault. Even if the other driver is found liable for the accident, your carelessness may affect the amount of compensation you receive.

An example of this would be if 1 or 2 of your tail lights were out and you were driving in the dark. The other driver may still be liable however the amount of compensation you would receive could be greatly reduced.

An accident whilst turning left

A collision involving a vehicle turning left into an oncoming car from the opposite direction is nearly always found to be at fault. There are a few exception where this rule but it can be difficult to prove and are normally very rare.

For example if the oncoming car was going way over the speed limit or if the oncoming car had run a red light, they would certainly be found at fault, but this must always be proven.

3213