How Is Fault Determined In a Car Accident Case?

The transportation industry has undergone a major revolution worldwide with the ever-increasing demand for driving and road transport. From motorcycles to cars to commercial trucks, significant strides have been made towards improving our daily commute. However, even as we celebrate these milestones, it’s worth noting that there has been an equal increase in the rate of car accidents, with fault often being in dispute.

While most accidents occur without hard evidence such as video recording, nearly all accidents are caused by the negligence of one or more parties. This could be as obvious as drunk driving or texting while driving, driving unsafe vehicles, failing to follow traffic signals, or poor lighting on the roads. With over half a million accidents reported by the Texas Department of Transportation every year, establishing fault is often a challenge. Nevertheless, most vehicle accidents occur because one or more parties failed to adhere to a reasonable standard of care. Without hard evidence, fault is determined in several ways:

Through Police Investigation

When a car accident occurs, the first responders are usually the police. They are trained to handle such situations and will try to gather as much information as possible to determine who is at fault. However, in some cases, the officer’s determination may be based on their own judgement. For example, if one driver claims to have had the green light, while the other driver claims to have had the green light, the officer may side with the driver they believe is more credible.

At the accident scene, the police will begin preparing a formal accident report. This report includes information such as the names and contacts of all parties involved, the location of the accident, the insurance information of the drivers, and any other observations. They will also talk to the drivers and any witnesses to determine fault. If fault is determined, the officer may issue a traffic violation ticket to the at-fault driver.

Admission of Fault

It’s natural for people to apologize when they make mistakes that cause harm or inconvenience to others. For example, if you accidentally bump into someone, you may apologize and ask for forgiveness to show your concern.

However, in motor vehicle accidents, apologizing to the other driver or party can be used against you. Even if you were not at fault, your apology can be taken as an admission of liability by the defendant. To avoid this situation, you should never apologize to the other party unless you know that the accident was your fault. It’s also advisable not to communicate with the other driver to prevent accidentally admitting fault. Instead, you should only speak to the police officer and/or medical personnel who are treating your injuries.

Through Traffic Rule Presumptions

We’ve all heard that if you rear-end someone else, you’re at fault. While this is not true 100% of the time (there are certain rare exceptions), this is the default presumption. Therefore, the party who rear-ends another vehicle has a very high burden to prove how they were not at fault. Arguments that the party in front “stopped short” are common, but often unsuccessful.

Another common traffic presumption concerns turning left. If one party is turning left and is hit by an oncoming driver, the presumption is that the party turning left is at fault. This is because the turning driver should have yielded to oncoming traffic. While it is not always true that the turning driver is at fault, there is a greater burden for this person to prove that the other driver is liable.

Through Judgment of the Truthfulness of the Parties

If the case goes to trial, the jury will have to determine which party to believe. As each party has the opportunity to testify, the jury will decide who they find more credible and assign fault based on the total evidence presented, which includes the live testimony of the parties.

Contact Our Attorneys Today

If you’ve been fortunate enough to avoid car accidents during your life, chances are that you have friends or family members who have been through such an ordeal. Whether it’s your own experience or someone close to you, a car accident is likely to have an impact on your life. Negligent drivers on our roads pose a threat to everyone, and when an accident occurs, you have many factors to consider, including health issues, medical bills, dealing with insurance companies, and car repairs. But perhaps the biggest concern following a car accident is determining who was at fault. While it may seem like a clear-cut case, proving fault to a jury may require a lot of work.

As you navigate the car accident claim process, it’s important to carefully document the facts that you or your car accident lawyer collect from the scene. This may include photographs of the property damage, the location of the accident, and any visible injuries sustained. Armed with such evidence, it will be much easier to show the jury exactly how the other driver was at fault and what damages were incurred. However, before going to trial or negotiating with your insurance company, it’s essential to seek the advice of an experienced car accident lawyer.

If you’ve been involved in a car accident and are unsure about who is at fault, please get in touch with our office. Our car accident attorneys are well-seasoned and can ensure that all the gray areas in your case are addressed effectively to maximize your chances of succeeding with your claim. Call us today for a free consultation.

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