If you or a loved one are involved in a car accident, you're likely wondering how you can determine who was at fault for the accident. It can be challenging to seek compensation for a car accident, particularly if fault is difficult to prove and the damages are severe. In many car accident claims, victims attempt to negotiate with other drivers' insurance companies to reach a settlement, but it can be difficult as insurance adjusters often work to prove that the victims were at least partially liable for accidents.
How to Prove Fault in Car Accidents
It can be hard enough to prove fault without difficult requirements in place for proving liability, but insurance companies and local governments will want to ensure that fault is accurately determined before awarding any compensation.
When proving fault, car accident victims will need to be able to effectively show that the at-fault driver failed to adhere to a "standard of care" when the accident took place, neglecting to act responsibly and reasonably. For example, a driver may have accelerated above the posted speed limit and rear-ended the victim, or they may have failed to pay attention to their surroundings, causing them to miss hazardous road conditions that led them to collide with another vehicle or pedestrian.
Generally, all drivers agree to obey traffic laws and take all possible actions to preserve the safety of other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians whenever they're behind the wheel of a vehicle. If you were involved in an accident where drivers failed to follow these unspoken rules, you may be able to prove fault and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Some of the evidence that may help you prove fault in car accidents could include the following:
Photos and Video Evidence
Following an accident, try to capture photos of any injuries and damage to vehicles or other property. If you were unable to take photos at the scene of the accident, try to obtain them from someone else who was involved. In many cases, witnesses or businesses may have captured videos, photos, or CCTV footage via nearby security cameras. This evidence is potentially the most powerful you may find, showing precisely what happened during and immediately after the accident.
Car Accident Reports
In the event an accident causes serious damage or injuries, it's important to report the accident to the police as soon as possible. If you can, obtain a copy of the police report, which may contain details about the accident that help prove that the other driver was at fault.
In addition to or in lieu of photos or videos, witness statements can also offer a valid perspective of the accident that may help prove who was at fault. Although you can't rely on witness accounts to be entirely accurate, they can still be accepted, and numerous witness statements may help paint a more complete and consistent picture of what actually took place at the time of the accident.
When Individuals or Entities Other Than a Driver Are at Fault
While many cases may involve drivers whose negligence results in a car crash, drivers aren't always the ones responsible. Even if an accident may appear to be the result of a driver's negligence, some problems with their vehicle may have caused the accident.
For example, mechanics who may have serviced a vehicle may have failed to provide sufficient repairs, or may have neglected to identify and address an issue. In other cases, manufacturers may be at fault for producing defective parts that caused mechanical failure. In these instances, attorneys may consult the help of relevant industry experts who may help prove that other parties were liable beyond the driver.
What to Do if You Were at Fault
People who are found to be at fault in an accident are often surprised to hear that they're responsible, often believing that they aren't. While an accident may not be your fault, it's important to avoid saying or doing anything that might lead insurers, governments, or attorneys to believe that you were at fault.
If you believe that you may be at fault or share fault in an accident, or to avoid being found liable if you believe you aren't at fault, take the following steps:
• File an accident report as soon as possible with the police
• Don't try to apologize to anyone involved in the accident, although it's important to try to practice care around them by asking them if they are okay and calling emergency services if anyone is injured.
• Contact your insurance company as soon as you can, but don't give adjusters any information they don't request directly. In fact, it often helps to consult with an attorney before contacting an insurance company to develop a carefully-constructed statement.
• Capture photos or videos of the accident and injuries and collect the contact details of any witnesses.
Consult with us to Discuss Your Case
In the event of a car accident, regardless of who was at fault or whether you're in a no-fault state, it's often in your best interest to speak with an attorney. We will be able to evaluate your case and determine what types of compensation you may be able to recover. We may also help prove who was at fault and help you to recover additional compensation based on fault.