Every year in the United States, 3 million people are injured in car accidents.
The same source tells us that receiving or sending a text message takes an average of 4.6 seconds. That 4.6 seconds is the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field, blind, at 55 mph.
3,166 people died because of distracted driving in 2017. Cell phones, food, and passengers are all common causes of distracted driving.
But how do you know a driver checking their phone was the cause of an accident?
When it comes to traffic accidents, sometimes it’s pretty easy to determine who is at fault. Other times, however, who is at fault depends on several factors.
Here’s a guide that will tell you all about how fault is determined in the event of an auto accident.
It Differs from State to State
Many states have complicated systems for determining fault in an accident. Sometimes one driver is to blame, whereas other times, a percentage of the blame can be assigned to each driver.
The drivers’ insurance companies determine each driver’s liability in most states. From there, they’ll seek compensation from the other company in order to cover their insured.
Insurance companies don’t have to come to the same conclusions as the police when it comes to fault. In fact, they have the final say in determining who they think is at fault.
It Starts with Gathering Evidence
Sometimes it’s obvious if a driver has run a red light or violated a traffic law. If a driver in an accident violated any traffic law, they’d be held mostly responsible for that car accident.
If any driver in an accident gets a citation for running a light, speeding, or anything other violation, they’ll likely be at fault.
If you’re in an accident, you should always call the police, as their report can significantly impact your case.
Regardless of the evidence, insurance companies can choose to disagree. Your insurance company will ask for any and all photos taken at the scene of an accident.
They’ll also ask for any witnesses who willingly gave their information for questioning.
What Evidence Is Used?
There are several different types of evidence the police and insurance companies can rely on, but anything relevant can be introduced as evidence.
Here are some of the types of evidence used.
Witness statements are less reliable, but they help explain what happened. And if several people corroborate, it will help solidify a case.
Photos of an accident can establish what happened and the extent of any damages.
Video cameras (both public and private) may show what happened in an accident. If they can, they’re a huge asset.
Unlike some witness statements, police reports provide impartial views of what happened at the scene. Unless a police offer witnessed the accident, however, the report is only based on evidence collected at the scene.
Physical evidence also plays an essential role in determining fault. Things like skid marks, damage to vehicles, other property damage, and paint on the cars can all help determine who is at fault.
What Type of Accident Was It?
How did the accident happen? If it was a result of a rear-end collision, the driver who hit the other driver would most likely be held liable.
Similarly, a driver making a left turn is usually blamed for any accident that results from the turn.
These situations are widespread, but they aren’t always the case. It’s essential for law enforcement and insurance companies to make sure they consider the full situation. All things must be considered to determine who’s at fault, regardless of whether or not there was a rear-end.
Sometimes drivers slam on their breaks without justification. Sometimes a driver makes a turn on a green arrow as someone else runs a red light.
Those are both examples of circumstances out of the ordinary in which the driver who gets hit is the driver at fault.
What Statements Were Made?
Any statement you make in the event of an accident can get used to determine fault.
That’s why, if you’ve been in an accident, you must call an auto accident attorney before you make a statement.
A lot of the time, police reports and insurance claims reference a driver’s admission of guilt, even if it’s inadvertent.
For example, if you say, “I’m so sorry for hitting you,” or “I didn’t see you,” both statements can result in you getting all or at least some of the blame for the accident.
What Did the Witnesses Stay?
Even if a driver is at fault, it’s unusual to admit it. But witnesses typically have concrete options about what happened and who is at fault.
If you were in an accident and you weren’t at fault, get names and numbers of witnesses and give them to your Kansas City car accident lawyer.
When drivers argue over who had a green light, witness statements play a huge role in determining who’s telling the truth.
Was a Driver Negligent?
Unless an accident was intentional, negligence is the legal justification for making one driver reimburse another for damage caused.
Some examples of negligence are:
- Running a red light
- Driving without headlights at night
- Failing to look both ways before a turn
- Failing to wear glasses with bad eyesight
- Not using a blinker at a turn
Your auto accident attorney will do everything in their power to prove negligence on behalf of the other party in the event of an accident that wasn’t your fault.
Traffic Accidents Are Simple and Complicated
Sometimes traffic accidents are cut and dry, and it’s easy to determine who’s at fault.
Other times, it takes the gathering of all evidence to determine who is at fault, or how the fault is shared.
Either way, insurance companies have the final say, even if there’s a police report.
If you’re looking for a car accident lawyer near me, look no further. We want to hear your story. Contact us for a free consultation so you can have peace of mind knowing reputable professionals are with you every step of the way.
Adam Krause is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Adam Krause has made a career of taking complicated litigation and presenting it in the most elementary terms for a jury of your peers to understand. Learn more about his experience here.