Four Tips To Help You Work Out Which Driver is at Fault Following a Car Crash

Posted by at 14 June 2019, at 22 : 34 PM

Four Tips To Help You Work Out Which Driver is at Fault Following a Car Crash

As if being involved in a vehicle incident isn’t traumatic enough, you must also decide who was at fault. This is because whoever is at fault will be responsible for putting the innocent party back into the position they were in before the incident. While liability is often hotly contested, one thing we can all agree on about car crashes is they happen really fast. So fast that it can feel like slow motion. Chances are you don’t have time to do much thinking while everything is in motion and the circumstances of the incident will have to be pieced together after the fact.

So if you’re involved in a vehicle incident, while it might be the last thing you want to think about, it is vital that you clear that post-accident brain fog and get to grips with the incident circumstances. But how can you determine liability on the spot? And what evidence do you need? Commit these tips to mind, so if you’re unfortunate enough to be involved in a car crash, you’ll be prepared to ask the right questions.

Police Reports

When you want to establish who was at fault, one of the most reliable forms of evidence is the official report compiled by police following the accident. Once your police officer has inspected the scene, they will submit a report detailing the available evidence, much of which could play an important role in resolving the liability question. For example, say you or the other driver had been driving over the speed limit. In that case, the speeding driver may have been at fault, but how do you prove speed? Police officers’ reports will include photographs of the vehicles in the position they came to rest in after the incident occurred. They will also include skid-marks, which can be used to back up a claim that one of the cars had been speeding. They might also photograph or note down paint marks on either car’s dents matching the paintwork of the other car. Police may also take statements from anyone who saw the incident happen, and as long as you don’t have a strong connection to witness (i.e. they are not your friend or family member) their testimony will be admissible.

Never Assume Anything

Sometimes it’s obvious who was to blame, but usually, the liability is not so clear cut. You might find yourself coming up against questions like, ‘who slipped up?’ or ‘who drove in a negligent way?’ or ‘who had the greater duty of care in this situation?’ or ‘who broke the law?’ While several of these questions may seem to overlap and even contradict each other, it’s crucial that you ask them, even if initially it had seemed obvious who was at fault. For example, if you were driving under the influence, you might jump to the conclusion that you were at fault (and the other driver is unlikely to contradict you) but when you take into account all the evidence, the other driver may have been at fault overall. This is one of those scenarios where you always speak to the attorney you trust. Once they have asked the relevant questions, you may find that the liability picture is quite different from the one you or the other driver originally painted. Having all the right and relevant details down before jumping to conclusions will help you approach the situation from a much more informed standpoint.

Four Tips To Help You Work Out Which Driver is at Fault Following a Car Crash

Vehicle Damage

One of the most often cited forms of evidence when it comes to deciding who was at fault is the location of vehicle damage. Taking a look at the exact location of dents and scrapes on the car will give you insight into the circumstances that you may not have had in the moment. The extent and location of damage will give you (and your insurer) clues as to how fast the vehicles were travelling, where they were travelling on the road, what direction they were coming from, and a whole host of other vital pieces of information that will determine the compensation required to put the innocent party back in the place they were before the accident, whether it be repairing vehicle damage or treating injury. Whatever you do, don’t leave the scene without taking photos of the damage to both vehicles. If you do not have a camera handy, note down accurate descriptions of the damage, or ideally, get a police report.

Cut and Dry Circumstances

There are a number of fairly clear-cut vehicle accident circumstances where one vehicle is deemed to be fully at fault. Usually, if you hit another car in the rear, you’re going to be at fault for the incident (and it’s not rocket science to work out how the vehicle damage evidence will come into play here). Ditto if you pull from a side road into oncoming traffic and drive into the side of another vehicle—the dent in the door of one car and the bumper of the other is going to be pretty damning evidence against the driver who pulled out. Same goes if you are changing lanes or over taking, but this can be tricky to prove as vehicles that have scraped by one another often have similar damage.

Even if it was not a major accident and the vehicles are only slightly dented, there may be other costly claims, such as injury and vehicle damage that is not immediately visible. Following a major incident, especially if there were serious injuries or even death, the overall tally of money owed can skyrocket. Before your insurance company pays out for damage, be it to vehicles, property or human beings, they will require valid evidence pointing the finger one way or the other. And if your two insurance companies can’t come to an agreement, your case might land up in court. If you’re unlucky enough to be involved in a vehicle accident, make sure you remember these tips for determining and proving who was at fault. Even if you think you know who made the illegal manoeuvre, take care to consider each of the factors that were at play. Determining who was at fault can take some detective work, so make sure you keep your wits about you.

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