Former State's Attorney With Over 38 Years of Experience

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Car accident liability – who is at fault?

Whenever you are in a car accident, your first thought is to ensure everyone’s safety. But once you are done with that excruciating responsibility, the second idea that barrages your mind is about who holds the liability in a car accident. 

The question is not only important for your conscience but also crucial for your insurance coverage. It is because in some states, knowing which party is negligent is important for even basic insurance claims such as medical expenses. In other areas, it’s critical for seeking damages through legal means. That’s why it’s important to assign fault in a car accident. 

If you are looking for assistance with car accident matters and need help with issues related to a respective insurance company, remember to reach out to Michael J. Brennan today. We have years of experience working with insurance companies, providing legal advice, and solving issues related to car accidents.

To help you determine who’s at fault in your car accident, here’s an overview of the process as well as its overall importance. 



Why Do You Need to Assign Fault in a Car Accident?

In some states, car insurance comes with personal injury protection (PIP). This protection gives you some financial coverage regardless of whoever is at fault in your car accident. Due to this reason, PIP coverage is also called no-fault insurance. 

If you live in one of the states with PIP coverage, you can rest assured that it will cover expenses such as your medical coverage. In some cases, it could also extend to covering your lost wages. With that being said, PIP does not cover damage to your vehicle through collision insurance. PIP is also not applicable in all states. 


At the time of writing, PIP no-fault coverage is available in the following states:


  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Pennsylvania
  • Utah


In the states where this coverage does not apply, you need to determine who holds the liability in a car accident in order to cover basic insurance expenses. Even in states where PIP is active, you have to assign fault in order to recover collision damage or personal damages from the other party. 


How to Determine Fault in a Car Accident?

Now that you understand why it’s important to assign fault in a car accident, here’s how you can determine a possible negligent party in your situation.


Look at the Police Report

This is one of the first and most important pieces of the puzzle to find who is at fault. It not only helps insurance companies determine the negligent driver but also helps you when you have to move forward with seeking compensation through lawsuits.


A police report is quickly available in cases where the police visit the site of the accident right away. This allows them to take witness reports and jot down their own findings. These findings are based on personal observation of the scene as well as the damaged vehicles or injured people. 


In cases where the police don’t make it to the scene, a request for a police report can be filed by either party in the accident. Post-accident investigations regarding the scene, vehicles, and people involved in the incident then make up for the findings of the police report. 


In either case, it is important that you obtain a copy of the police report and check what the findings tell you about factors such as possible drunk driving. If there are factual errors, you can have them corrected through evidence. This helps you determine who holds the liability in a car accident. 


Take Pictures or Visual Evidence

In cases such as rear-end collisions or fender benders, it is very easy for insurance companies and legal experts to determine who is at fault. In more complex situations, observing the scene a little further allows them to understand the negligence of the certain party. 


In both easy and difficult scenarios, documenting the damage helps you determine who is at fault. This includes taking pictures of the vehicles as well as the scene. By presenting this visual evidence during the police report, insurance claims, as well as legal proceedings, you can determine exactly which party is negligent. 


Assess Associated Information

Whenever you are assimilating why it’s important to assign fault in a car accident, it’s common for this point to come up. Many times, additional findings of vehicle performance or defects can also help you. By looking at pieces of evidence that outline vehicle conditions such as defective brakes or acceleration, you can also find the party at fault. 


This can also support you in situations where a general perspective tells a one-sided story. For instance, in fender benders where the rear vehicle is often assigned the fault, any problem in the front vehicle’s tail light makes its driver negligent instead. By noting these details, you can effectively turn around the narrative with proper and valid information.


See If Vehicle Codes Were Broken

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) maintains state traffic laws that have to be followed by all vehicles in the jurisdiction. These laws are specific to states and can be seen through your DMV. This makes sure that you are able to determine any violations in relation to your accident. As a result, you can see if the other party can be held at fault. 

This can help you through insurance claims. But it especially supports you through legal proceedings where you need to hold the other party at fault. With the help of a seasoned lawyer, you can move forward with arguing your case about the violation of state traffic laws. 


Contact Michael J. Brennan for Car Accident Law Matters Today

At Michael J. Brennan, our seasoned lawyers are ready to help you through the complexities of car accident claims. Through our solutions, you can steer clear of the difficulties that these claims bring to the table. 

To see how our services can assist you in car accident claims, don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation/quote today. We will be glad to understand your concerns and help you resolve them right away.


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