Proving Fault in a Car Accident
Whenever a car accident involves multiple vehicles, it is important to determine who was responsible. Motorists who are not at fault may have to argue (in court or to an insurance company) that another party caused the accident. The person deemed at fault may have to compensate those who have been harmed for damages. Plaintiffs in car accident cases have to prove that a defendant was at fault by a preponderance of the evidence.
One of the most common sources of information regarding an accident is a police report. In many cases, an officer will arrive at the site of an accident and take notes about the crash. These reports may include the officer's impressions of the accident, including what may have caused the crash. This information can often be invaluable when someone is attempting to prove fault related to an accident. People who have been involved in a crash should contact the officer who filed the report and request a copy.
Of course, an officer may not be available to come to the scene of a crash. A police report can still be obtained by visiting the police department and making a report of the accident. The report should be thoroughly reviewed to ensure that the facts are accurate. If it is determined that there are inaccuracies, the department should be notified immediately so that the report can be amended appropriately.
State Traffic Laws
People may also be able to bolster their case by clearly demonstrating that the other party failed to observe traffic laws. A driver involved in a crash that was speeding, ran a red light or otherwise failed to observe the rules of the road would normally be determined to have been at fault so long as there is sufficient evidence to support the claim.
There are certain types of accidents that nearly always result in one party being considered responsible for the crash. These are referred to as no-doubt liability accidents and they include rear-end crashes and left-turn accidents.
Rear-end accidents are nearly always the fault of drivers who hit the car in front of them. This is because state laws require that motorists must leave enough space and be traveling at an appropriate speed to stop without colliding with the vehicle in front of them. This can become complicated when multiple vehicles are involved in a crash, such as when one driver rear-ends a car and the following vehicle is unable to stop in time.
A left-turn collision is another type of no-doubt liability accident. A left-turn collision involves two vehicles, one going straight and the other making a turn. It is assumed that the driver of the automobile going straight is proceeding in a proper manner. It is up to the driver making the left turn to ensure that it is safe to proceed, so if an accident takes place, the assumption is that the driver turning left failed to act appropriately.
However, there are a few circumstances where the driver turning left may not be considered to be at fault for this type of crash. These situations normally arise when the driver going straight was exceeding the speed limit, ran a red light or was negligent in some other fashion.
People who have been injured in a not at fault accident may find it advisable to meet with a personal injury lawyer to determine the best way to proceed. Most lawyers in this practice area offer a free consultation.
The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.
Additional Auto Accident Articles
- Auto Accidents
- Car Accident Basics
- Car Accidents: Legal FAQ
- Car Accidents: Contributory & Comparative Negligence
- Types of Car Accident Damages
- Types of Car Accident Injuries
- Car Insurance Claims: Dos and Don'ts