If you’ve been in a car accident, determining who is at fault is both a top priority and a difficult task. The legally at fault party will determine whose insurance will be required to pay for vehicle damage, and which driver could be held liable for any injury.
While a lot goes into determining who is at fault in an auto accident, you can do a variety of tasks after your accident to help ensure that you have the best possible case in proving which party is at fault.
How to Determine Negligence
The negligent party in a car accident is the one who is ultimately responsible for causing the accident. In some cases, this is a clear-cut determination – for example, when a driver has run a red light and hit another driver who had the right-of-way.
In other cases, determining negligence can be more complicated. For example, one of the more common forms of driver negligence is a lack of attention on the road. In cases such as this, it can be challenging to prove the distraction. Other situations, like poor road conditions or lack of car maintenance, can complicate the determination of negligence.
Proving Fault in an Accident
Two crucial items can assist in proving fault in a car accident – evidence and witnesses. Evidence will include the police report that was filed, any documentation the driver made at the scene (photos, sketches, notes, etc.), and any available traffic camera footage.
Witnesses at the scene will give their report to the police when they come to the scene of the auto accident. Corroborating witnesses, especially multiple witnesses with the same understanding of how the accident occurred, can significantly affect the determination of fault.
Traffic Camera Footage
Traffic cameras can invaluable in determining the negligent party in an auto accident. Particularly in cases where a stop sign or light is involved, there will likely be cameras that you can use to prove the at-fault driver.
Your auto accident lawyer will obtain video from any nearby businesses, residential cameras, dash cameras, and traffic cameras that can help to prove the circumstances of the accident.
Smartphone Data and Vehicle “Black Boxes”
Other forms of evidence can include smartphone data, such as call, texting, or browsing information, and location data. This type data can be invaluable proving a driver’s conduct and actions leading up to a wreck. However, the information must be preserved or downloaded shortly following the wreck.
Most automobiles on the road have “black boxes” that often record the events during the seconds leading up to a violent crash. Such information can include speed, braking, and steering motions.
In any investigation, it is essential to begin gathering evidence early. For example, video from security cameras may be erased, witnesses may become difficult to track down, and involved automobiles may be salvaged or scrapped.
The Police Report
When in a serious auto accident, the drivers will need to notify law enforcement for a police report to be filed. When law enforcement arrives on the scene, they’ll acquire information such as:
- A detailed description of what happened in the crash, including the vehicle types and registration information
- Statements from all drivers/parties involved, including names, addresses, phone numbers, and insurance information
- Witness statements
- Time, date, and location of the accident, as well as the condition of the road and weather
- Any moving violations or citations
- Any other relevant information as determined by the law enforcement officer
Even in minor car accidents, a police report can help to legally protect you as you work through insurance or injury claims from the accident.
Your Own Documentation
If you’re involved in an auto accident, you shouldn’t rely solely on the police report. Obtaining your own documentation at the scene can strengthen any claims you have for compensation down the line. Your legal team will also use this information to help make your case in court if necessary.
Before leaving the scene of the accident, you’ll want to obtain photos of:
- Any exterior or interior damage to the vehicles
- Vehicle positioning at the crash site, including any landmarks/street signs
- Vehicle license plates
- Any skid or stop marks
- Any debris from the vehicle or other object that was involved in the car accident.
You’ll also want to document the driver’s license and insurance card of all involved parties, weather/road conditions, time of day, and the speed at which you were driving.
If there are witnesses to your accident, gather their contact information as well so you can refer to them with your legal team as necessary.
How will the Insurance Company Determine Fault for Your Collision?
There are four typical scenarios when it comes to an insurance company determining who is at fault in an accident, and therefore which insurance company will pay for damages.
- 100% at fault: one driver is the sole cause of the accident. This driver’s insurance company will be held responsible for covering damages caused by the accident.
- 51% or more at fault: both drivers in this scenario played a role in causing the accident. The at-fault percentage helps to determine which driver’s insurance will cover the accident-related damages.
- 50% / 50% at fault: sometimes, in cases without any witnesses, the accident will be considered the fault of both drivers. In states where this is an allowable outcome, the insurance companies will equally split the costs of damages.
- No fault: in a no-fault car accident, neither driver is the cause of the accident. In states where this is allowable, each individual will submit insurance claims to their respective insurance companies for compensation.
These scenarios can change based on the state in which the accident occurs, as each state has specific considerations.
The insurance companies will use all the documentation that you gathered, traffic camera recordings, and the police report to determine who is at fault in the accident.
Hire A Nashville Auto Accident Attorney
If you’ve been in a car accident, you want people in your corner that are committed to doing what is right for you. At Leader Law, that’s our mission. With our extensive experience in Nashville auto and truck accident litigation, we can help you present a strong claim against the driver at fault.
Contact us today for a free consultation.