One of the main things that will need to be determined after a car accident is which party is at fault. This is called “Liability” and it will determine which party’s insurance company will have to pay for any damages caused by the crash. Sometimes liability is clear, but sometimes liability is shared among several parties.
Insurance companies are typically the ones who assign fault to a car accident. They will look at all the details of the crash — such as evidence, photos, eyewitness testimony, the injuries involved, police reports, any traffic citations involved, and other factors — to determine who caused the accident.
How is Fault Determined?
Liability in a car accident is primarily determined by state laws and common sense. California, for example, operates under comparative negligence laws, as do 11 other states. This means that the jury can assign comparative fault to any person involved in a collision.
For example, if the other party is 75% at fault, they will pay for 75% of the damages caused by the crash. You or your insurance company would have to cover the remaining 25%.
Other states use variations of this negligence law. For example, some refuse to pay out at all if you are more than 50% at fault. Five states and the District of Columbia operate under pure negligence laws, which means that even if you were just 1% at fault for the accident, you would not be able to recover any financial recovery for your damages.
Who Else May Decide Who is at Fault?
While insurance companies are often the ones who determine fault, there are other ways to do so. They include:
- The drivers themselves. The shock of an accident can cause a driver to blame themselves for what happened. They may profusely apologize for what happened or admit they didn’t see the other vehicle, which can be used against them, even if they actually weren’t at fault.
- Police report. A police officer will arrive at the accident scene to take notes and talk to the drivers and any witnesses. The report will include any diagrams of the crash scene as well as any assumptions. This report will be given to the insurance company as evidence and can help determine liability.
- Arbitration. When the insurance companies don’t agree, the case may go to arbitration. A private company assesses the damage and decides who pays. The process is done electronically and reduces the number of lawsuits.
- Jury. If the case goes to court, a jury will decide. However, less than 2% of cases make it this far due to the cost and time involved, so litigation in a car accident case is very rare.
Contact Us Today
In most cases, the insurance company decides who is at fault in a car crash. However, if there is some disagreement, then the case could go to arbitration or even to court where a judge or jury will decide.
The Los Angeles Car Accidents Attorneys at El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers can help you with your case and help prove the liability of the other party. See how we can help you obtain financial recovery. Fill out the online form or call 213-985-1120 to schedule a free consultation.