Who Determines Who Is Responsible for a Traffic Accident?

Who Determines Who Is Responsible for a Traffic Accident?
Who Determines Who Is Responsible for a Traffic Accident?

Depending on the traffic accident, determining responsibility for this collision may be easy, especially if it is clear that the accident was the other party’s fault.  Unfortunately, these accidents are not always this straightforward. In some instances, the other driver may refuse to acknowledge that their misconduct caused the accident, or there is some confusion regarding this liability.

That is why if you want to protect your legal rights after this collision, you must understand who determines responsibility for a car crash. Fortunately, you will not have to figure out this process alone. In this blog post, we will go over everything you need to know about establishing liability for a motor vehicle accident and the things you can do to help your chance of securing the financial recovery you deserve.

The Authorities

After a crash, the authorities must be called immediately. If you cannot make this call, have someone around you call on your behalf. Not only is this the fastest way to ensure that you and others get the medical help they need, but once the police get to the scene, they are the first people responsible for determining fault for the traffic accident.

To do this, they will investigate the crash and obtain critical information about what happened by talking to the parties involved and the witnesses present at the scene, as well as reviewing the damage to the cars. They will write this information in their police report, including the names of those involved, the accident’s location, and insurance details. They will also weigh the accounts of what happened and use their judgment to determine fault, writing down these findings in the report.

Insurance Companies

After an accident, the insurance companies will also be responsible for looking into the crash to determine who was responsible for the motor vehicle accident. They will review the evidence, including the police report, photos, and videos of the crash, and may even talk to witnesses from the accident scene to find out what they saw.

Based on this evidence and its investigation, the insurance company will conclude what happened and who was responsible for the crash.

Admitting Fault for the Collision

Admission is one of the easiest ways to determine fault after a motor vehicle accident. If the other party admits that the accident was due to their error, it will be relatively simple to figure out what happened and who to blame. However, based on this logic, if you apologize for the accident or indicate that any of it was your fault, the other side will use this to their advantage and try to blame you.

For these reasons, you should not make these types of statements or comments after a collision, as they can end up hurting your case. Instead, if you speak with the other driver or others at the scene after the traffic accident, try to get their details, including names, contact information, and insurance details, but do not discuss the accident or your part in it.

Security Video Footage

Another great way to establish fault after an accident is with security cameras. Unfortunately, while these are not always available, it is still beneficial to canvass the area and identify places where security videos may have been present to see if there is any security footage of the accident.

However, do not panic if you cannot complete this task. When you retain an experienced car accident attorney, these lawyers can work on finding these videos for you. These legal professionals can also send out requests to obtain these videos and preserve them, and then they can review the footage to determine what happened and who was at fault for the accident.

How to Help Your Case After an Accident

While your health should be your top priority after a traffic accident, taking certain actions after this collision can help establish liability and protect your legal rights. That is why, if it is possible, you should consider doing the following after a motor vehicle collision:

Get to a Doctor Immediately

Even if you believe your injuries are minor, you should still get to a healthcare professional as soon as possible. Depending on the circumstances of your accident, you may be suffering from a hidden traumatic injury, such as brain trauma or a spinal cord injury, and not know it. Thankfully, these doctors can examine you and provide you with the necessary care.

In addition, these medical care professionals can also write up your injuries in their medical report, which can provide your attorney with a direct connection between the harm you sustained and the traffic accident, helping to establish what happened and who was responsible for the collision.

Collect as Much Evidence as You Can

Try collecting as much evidence from the crash scene as possible, including photos of any injuries, the motor vehicles involved in the collision, and the damage done to them. You also want to make sure you document the vehicles’ placement on the road, any road defects, skid markings, weather conditions, traffic conditions, road conditions, and anything else that can help show how the accident transpired and who may have been responsible for it.

Speak to Witnesses

If there were individuals present at the scene who saw what occurred, try to get their information, including names, phone numbers, and other contact details. These witnesses can provide more information about the accident to your lawyer, who can use it to strengthen your case and offer testimony that can help collaborate your side of the story.

Why Determining Fault Matters?

Figuring out who was at fault after a traffic accident is important because it will usually dictate who will bear financial responsibility for the crash. In an at-fault car insurance state, the individual who caused the accident will be responsible for paying for any injuries that resulted, as well as motor vehicle damage. Generally, this will mean that their insurance company will have to pay.

In a no-fault car insurance state, regardless of fault, the injured motorist will have to make a claim with their own insurance company, at least intially. However, fault can still play a significant role since the insurance company will use this information to determine how they will proceed with the claim and how they will value the case.

The insurance company will also likely charge more after the car crash if the accident was the claimant’s fault since insurance premiums are often based on actuarial risk assessment. If a person causes a traffic accident, they are a higher risk to the insurance company.

Consequently, no matter where you live and the type of insurance coverage, determining fault after a traffic accident can play a vital role in the potential financial recovery you can receive and what it can mean for your insurance going forward.

Pursuing Maximum Damages After a Traffic Accident

Typically, the only way to secure maximum compensation after a traffic accident is to bring a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. If you can bring this suit, you may be able to secure different categories of damages, including the following:

Economic Damages

These damages refer to compensation for the actual damages that result from the accident, including payment for:

  • Medical bills related to ambulance services, other emergency services, doctor visits, hospital stay, surgeries, medications, and different types of treatments
  • Ongoing medical care
  • Lost wages
  • Reduced earning capacity
  • Personal property damages
  • Rehabilitative therapy
  • Replacement services
  • Other costs

Non-Economic Damages

These damages refer to the hard-to-quantify losses resulting from an accident.

They include payment for things such as:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Inconvenience resulting from the injuries
  • Other personal losses

However, to bring this lawsuit, not only do strict requirements need to be met, depending on where you live, but you also have to be able to prove that another individual was responsible for the accident. As a result, following this traffic accident, you may consider reaching out to an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. These lawyers can weigh your legal options, determine what damages you can pursue, and help you prepare the most convincing legal case to go after maximum financial recovery.

Be Wary of the Insurance Companies

Even though the insurance company is one of the parties responsible for determining fault after an accident, you should still stay wary about talking to these companies. Remember that the insurance company is not in the business of providing you with the most compensation after a traffic accident. Rather, like other businesses, they, too, want to make money. And to do this, they have to find ways to pay you less for your claim.

As a result, these companies will try to do everything they can to get you to admit fault after an accident or try to discover evidence that can allow them to reduce your payout. For these reasons, before you talk to these insurance adjusters, you should speak with a knowledgeable motor vehicle accident lawyer, who can take on these insurance companies and make sure they do not try to play games with the money you need.

How Long Do You Have to File a Lawsuit After a Traffic Accident?

Outside of determining fault, car accident victims should keep in mind the deadline to file their legal claims. According to the statute of limitations, individuals will only have a certain time to file their legal suit after an accident. Failing to do so can prevent these individuals from securing the money they need to cover their losses and injuries.

For these reasons, you may want to reach out to a skilled motor vehicle accident lawyer as soon as you can after a traffic crash. These attorneys can promptly figure out how much time you have to file your lawsuit after your accident and make sure that your motions, files, and documents are prepared and submitted to the appropriate court before this time expires.

Let an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Help You Prove Fault After a Traffic Accident

Russell Nicolet
Car Accident Attorney, Russell Nicolet

As you deal with the effects of a car accident, the last thing you want to do is worry about showing how the other motorist caused your injuries and losses. Thankfully, when you retain an experienced car accident attorney to take on your case, you will not have to deal with this complex legal fight alone.

Instead, your attorneys can:

  • Go over your car crash with you in detail, review your legal options, and help figure out the legal course of action you should take next.
  • Investigate the car collision and gather the evidence required to help prove what happened and who was at fault.
  • Find witnesses who saw what happened and get their testimony.
  • Bring in experts to help validate your legal claim.
  • Handle the settlement negotiations and go after the just settlement offer you and your loved ones need.
  • Fight for the total financial damages you deserve by heading to court if the other side is unwilling to offer you a fair settlement amount.

That is why if you or a loved one suffered significant injuries in a car accident and you are having a hard time establishing fault, reach out to a trusted personal injury attorney today for a free case consultation and let these lawyers answer your questions, provide you with the legal advice you need, and go over how they can help you fight for the justice you deserve.