Millions of car accidents occur in the United States every year. If you find yourself involved in a traffic accident, it’s important to understand how the process works to determine which driver is at fault. Here are six helpful things you should know.
1. Car accidents are usually caused by human error
The cause of the car accident can help determine who is at fault.
While things like fallen trees and icy roads can cause accidents, most car accidents are caused by human error, like driving above speed limits or being too tired to drive properly.
Of course, negligence and recklessness also play an important role in car accidents. For example, drivers who cause traffic accidents could be distracted by cell phones or be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If you are involved in a car accident, you should seek advice from an experienced lawyer who can help you determine whether or not you are at fault and assist you in fair settlements and court cases.
For example, if you have a car accident in Chicago, visit zayedlawoffices.com to find an experienced and knowledgeable car accident attorney in Chicago.
2. Insurance companies could determine who is at fault
In cases where everyone involved in the car accident files claims with their insurance companies, insurers will investigate to decide which driver or drivers are responsible for the accident.
If the other driver is found guilty, your insurer will use a process known as subrogation to obtain reimbursement for your claim from the other driver’s insurance company.
3. A jury could determine who is at fault
To understand who is responsible for a car accident, it may sometimes be necessary to go to court. A jury will then decide who is responsible.
However, few cases end up in court. Usually, insurance companies and lawyers can determine fault and reach out-of-court settlements.
If your case goes to court, state negligence laws will determine how much can be paid to cover medical expenses and car damage.
4. The difference between no-fault and at-fault states
How insurance claims are handled depends on whether you are in a no-fault state or an at-fault state.
In no-fault states, drivers are required to have personal injury protection on their auto insurance policies. PIP helps pay for your medical bills after you’ve been involved in a car accident that results in injury, regardless of who was responsible for the accident.
Failed states do not require drivers to have a PIP. Instead, at-fault driver auto insurance coverage helps pay for injury claims.
In at-fault and no-fault states, property damage claims are paid on a fault basis. So if your car is damaged by the fault of another driver, their coverage can help pay for the repairs.
5. State Laws Regarding Negligence
While state no-fault and no-fault laws affect how auto insurance claims are paid, state laws also define what constitutes negligence. And it affects how fault is determined and how claims are paid.
Sometimes car accidents aren’t just the fault of one driver. In such cases, adjusters or a jury will have to determine the degree of liability of each party. This will then affect the amount each driver’s insurance company is responsible for paying.
Each party’s percentage of liability will be based on the precise details of the car accident. Each state’s laws vary when it comes to negligence. States could use one of the following three approaches.
In states that use comparative negligence approaches, you can recover your car accident expenses from the other driver based on their percentage of fault in the accident.
Let’s say the other driver is 70% at fault. This means that the driver’s insurance company can pay up to 70% of your medical bills and car repair costs. Your own insurer would pay the remaining 30%.
Modified comparative negligence
When a state uses the modified comparative negligence approach, you are not able to recover the other driver’s expenses if you are found to be more than 50% or 51% at fault (depending on the ‘State) of the car accident.
In such cases, you will have to pay both your medical expenses and the cost of repairing your car, even if the other driver is partially responsible for the accident.
In states that use contributory negligence, also known as pure negligence, you cannot recover medical and repair expenses if you are at fault in a car accident.
So even if it turned out that you were only 5% at fault, the other driver’s insurance company wouldn’t pay you.
6. The police report can help determine fault
When the police arrive at the scene of a car accident, they first assess whether medical help is needed and make sure everyone is safe.
The next thing the police are going to do is record the scene. The police will note the damage to all vehicles involved in the accident and take photographic evidence.
Often, the simple recording of a car accident scene can make it clear which driver is at fault.
Insurance companies use police reports to help determine liability. So when a police report is filed, it can help you if the other driver decides to sue you for injuries and medical damages.
If no police arrive at the scene of the accident, it is in your best interest to file a report with the police soon after the accident.
Also, if no police are on the scene and you are not seriously injured, be sure to take photos of the accident scene, including close-ups of the license plates. registration and damage as well as wider shots of the scene.
Don’t forget to exchange your contact details with the other driver and also obtain the contact details of the witnesses.
Documenting the scene of the accident and obtaining the details of those present can make all the difference in helping insurance companies or a jury determine who is responsible for the car accident.