Who Determines Fault After A Car Accident?

Posted on: 21 March 2023

In most cases, fault is of primary concern after an accident. The driver found to have caused an accident must use their own auto insurance to cover both their own damages and that of the other driver as well. The way fault is determined depends on the circumstances of the accident. However, in most cases, fault is determined by law enforcement, insurance adjusters, or a judge and jury.

Read on to find out more about determining fault after a car accident.

Interested Parties in Determining Fault

  • In many cases, a law enforcement officer is the first on the scene of a car accident. Police officers are trained to figure out what caused two or more vehicles to crash together. At least one responding officer is tasked with gathering evidence so that fault can be determined. That task is accomplished by observing the wrecked vehicles, the location of the damage to the vehicles, and the way the vehicles came to rest. They may also interview the drivers, passengers, and most importantly, neutral eyewitnesses to the accident. They then prepare the information gathered into an important document – the accident report. Other available evidence is that obtained from nearby traffic, residential, or business cameras.
  • Insurance adjusters have a major interest in determining fault. A lot of money could be on the line if their client was found to be at fault. Insurance adjusters use evidence like the above-mentioned accident report along with any other available evidence. In most cases, fault can be determined very quickly. Often, the at-fault driver themselves confesses to being the cause of the accident. Once the insurer rules on fault, the financial aspects of the case can move forward. However, if fault is still in question, more investigation may be performed.
  • Experts in accident reconstruction can be consulted when no one can agree on what occurred at the time of the accident. These experts feed all available facts into reenactment scenario software. The results are often admissible in court. However, many cases settle based on the evidence from the accident report, the insurance adjuster, and more. When a case settles, it is resolved outside of court. However, many cases do go to court.
  • If a case is so complex that it can only be resolved by a court of law, the evidence available is presented to a judge and jury at a trial. Once a ruling is handed down, the case is over.

Speak to an auto accident injury attorney to learn more.