Car Accident Liability: Proving Fault After an Auto Mobile Accident

Monday, March 11, 2013

Article Written By: Katie Farrell, Staff Writer

In almost all car accidents, it is important to be able to prove who carries the car accident liability. In other words: who made the mistake or was negligent.

It may be obvious to all parties involved who was at fault in an accident, but just saying so is often not enough for insurance companies. You can make a stronger argument to your insurance provider if you can support your side of the story with evidence or "official" support. This article provides a brief overview of some ways to increase your chances at proving fault after an accident.

Police Reports

Police do not always come to the scene of an accident, but if they do, the police officer will probably have to make some sort of official police report about the accident. Police officers generally show up to accidents that involve injuries, but they often stop at non-injury accidents as well. If they do show up at your accident, be sure to ask the officer how to get a copy of the police report once it is filed.

Police reports are really just the written recollections and thoughts of the police officer that studied the accident. These reports often contain great evidence about car accident liability, such as the police officer's opinion that one car must have been speeding based on the officer's observations about the length of the skid-marks on the pavement. In addition, police officers will also often indicate whether or not they issued any traffic tickets at the scene of an accident.

State Traffic Laws

State traffic laws, often called the vehicle code, are also a great place to find support for your argument that the other driver was at fault in the accident. These laws are often condensed down into a simple-to-read "Rules of the Road" document. You will probably be able to find a Rules of the Road booklet at your local DMV.

After you have found the right code section that applies to your accident, you are in a better position to negotiate with your or the other driver's insurance company. For instance, a code section relating to yielding the right of way may be useful for an accident that occurred at a merger. Make sure to write down or print a copy of the exact wording of the code section, as it won't help you to cite a law in the wrong form to an insurance company.

Rear End Accidents

Rear end accidents are one of the most common types of automobile accidents. If a car has hit you from behind, it will almost never be your fault, even if you were stopped. One of the most basic rules of the road is that you are supposed to leave enough room in front of your car to be able to stop should the car in front of you make a sudden stop. If the car behind you could not stop before hitting you, he was probably not driving safely.

One thing to think about is that, even though the other driver was probably at fault in a rear end collision, you also may be slightly at fault if your negligence contributed to the accident. A common example of this is when your brake lights are out. In addition, if you got a flat tire on the road and decided to stop in the middle of the lane instead of merging out of traffic, you may also bear some comparative negligence which will reduce your monetary award.

Left-Turn Collisions

As with rear end collisions, left turn accidents are almost always the fault of the driver taking the left turn. Cars coming straight into an intersection will have the right of way in most instances. If the car going straight through the intersection is speeding or runs a red light, this may shift some or all of the car accident liability away from the car turning left. The other exception is rare: if the car turning left started turning left while it was safe to do so, but was forced to stop because of some unforeseen circumstance, then some of the liability may be shifted as well.

Contact an Attorney

An automobile accident can be traumatic and burdensome on your day-to-day life, and as a result, it is vital to get informed and know your rights. If you or a loved one have been involved in an automobile accident, contact an attorney to ensure that your legal rights are protected.

Practice Areas: 

Accidents & Injuries