Being involved in an auto accident can come as a shock, but sooner or later, the question of fault arises. Who made the mistake that left you hurt and with a wrecked car? The question of fault might not matter in some states that take a "no-fault" view of insurance and accidents. In other places, however, the issue of fault will determine whether or not you can recover financial damages. Read on to learn more about this important facet of your car accident claim.
When Fault Is Undisputed
Some auto accident situations call for a quick and simple placement of fault. In all but the rarest of cases, for example, the driver who rear-ends you is at fault. Drivers are expected to pay close attention to the pace and the stop-and-go nature of traffic. You cannot control what the driver behind you does, in most cases.
When Fault Is Shared
Unfortunately, not all accidents are as easily resolved. The presence of other drivers and eyewitnesses can help decide fault when the drivers disagree about who caused the accident. Law enforcement personnel on the scene may attempt to determine fault by questioning the drivers and any witnesses and the results of that quick investigation will appear in the accident report. Often, however, the drivers provide conflicting information about the accident. For example:
Driver A contends that they had the right-of-way at an intersection and was hit from the side by Driver B. Driver B contends that they did not see the other driver because their headlights were not on and it was very dark. This might be one of many examples of both drivers sharing fault.
How Shared Fault Is Divided
If it appears that both sides may be partially to blame for the accident, the insurance company will conduct an investigation to determine the percentages of shared fault. This is an important point since the driver that ends up with the greater percentage of fault will have to pay the damages. The investigation will review:
Take Action and Protect Your Interests
Once you exchange insurance information at the scene, never speak to anyone about the accident except your personal injury attorney. If you don't agree with the findings of the insurance investigation, don't sign a release. Speak to your attorney about taking your case to court.
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