Car Accident?  How to Tell Who’s at Fault?

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you have enough to be concerned about without having to worry about an insurance company that’s denying liability because they say their insured is not at fault.  REMEMBER, the insurance company is NOT there to help you.  They are in this business for their bottom line. . . to make money.

Sometimes it’s easy to tell who’s at fault in a car accident, but this isn’t always the case.  For instance, in a rear-end accident, it may be pretty clear who caused the collision.  But, in other types of accidents, such as a non reportable accident, who’s at fault may not be so clear.

Frequently, there are several methods by which fault is determined in a car accident including:

  • the drivers decide who’s at fault
  • the police decide who’s at fault
  • the insurance company decides who’s at fault
  • as a final resort, the insurance company will decide who’s at fault

The Drivers Decide

Sometimes the drivers decide, perhaps not meaning to.  Often, at the scene of the accident, one of the drivers will admit to causing the accident.  They may say, “I didn’t see the stop sign” or “it was my fault.”  Sometimes the drivers are so shaken up by an accident that they immediately point the finger at themselves.  BE CAREFUL NOT TO DO THIS!!  You will likely regret this later.

But what should you do instead?  Instead of admitting fault, occupy your time taking cell phone photos of             the crash scene and the vehicles.  If there are any witnesses, be sure to take down their names and phone numbers.

The Police Decide

Other times, the police who arrive on the scene of the accident will decide who is at fault.  First, the police officer will determine whether there is anyone who is injured and needs to be transported to the hospital.  Then, the officer will evaluate the collision.  In many situations, it can be easier to determine fault in rear-end collisions.

Many times, the police report will indicate who the officer believes is at fault.  But remember, the police accident report doesn’t always show who’s at fault and isn’t infallible. Insurance companies, though, will definitely be looking at the police report.  So, you should obtain a copy when it’s available.

The Insurance Company Decides Who’s at Fault

When it’s not apparent who’s at fault from the police report and no one pointed the finger at themselves, the insurance company will try to decide who’s at fault. This can be a dangerous scenario, since the insurance company definitely isn’t going to try to help you if you’re not insured with them.

If the other driver’s insurance company doesn’t accept liability and you don’t want to push a claim, you can file with your own insurance company if you have collision coverage.  If you have collision coverage on your car, you can get reimbursed by your insurance company for damage done to your car.  If this happens, sometimes your insurance company will ask for reimbursement (also called subrogation) from the other insurance company if they believe the other driver was at fault.

The Jury Decides as a Final Resort

If you’ve tried to get your car accident claim resolved with the insurance company and they’re not wrapping it up to your satisfaction, at that point sometimes a jury has to decide who’s at fault and what the injured party deserves.  Even though very few cases get as far as trial, at times a trial is required to resolve some cases.

Talk with a Car Accident Lawyer

If you’ve been injured by the negligence of a driver who has lost control of his or her vehicle, the Ritchie Law Firm has obtained life-changing settlements for thousands of injured clients.  See our Verdicts and Settlements here. The experienced, certified attorneys at the Ritchie Law Firm have helped thousands of injured victims and their families recover the compensation they deserve after an accident. Contact us by phone at 800-277-6124 or by using our online contact form.

Talk With A Virginia And West Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one suffered personal injuries due to the negligence of one of the responsible parties listed above, the Ritchie Law Firm is here to help.  The expert attorneys at the Ritchie Law Firm have helped thousands of injured victims and their families recover the compensation they need after an accident. Contact us by phone at 800-277-6124 or by using our online contact form.

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Ritchie Law Firm is a personal injury law firm devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence. Ritchie Law Firm serves all of Virginia while helping clients in cities and surrounding areas of Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Staunton, and Winchester also serves clients in West Virginia, including Martinsburg, WV.




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