Determining Fault After a Car Accident

Car Accident Lawyer

With so many regulations and laws in place surrounding drivers and the operation of their vehicles, navigating the laws of an accident can be strenuous and confusing. You may end up wondering who is at fault, how fault is determined and if more than one driver can be found guilty. There are several types of negligence to consider, as well as differences in state laws that may affect how your situation is handled. Here is a breakdown of what you might expect following your accident.

After the Accident

After checking to make sure everyone involved in the accident is okay or requires medical attention, be sure to call the police and report the accident to your insurance agency. Make sure the police get your statement, but don’t admit to any fault or wrongdoing until after you have spoken to an attorney. Get information from any other drivers involved in the crash, write down how the accident occurred and take photos that can be referenced later for a claim or in the event of a trial.

Comparative Negligence

There are different types of negligence determining fault depending on the state you live in. Comparative negligence means that fault can be divided among drivers in a percentage relative to the amount they were responsible for the accident. For example, if it’s deemed that one driver was thirty percent responsible while the other was seventy percent, the fault will be divided thirty to seventy and insurance will provide compensation based on those rates.

In other states, a slightly different model of comparative negligence is used, where compensation may only be obtained by a driver who is partially at fault under a certain percentage (such as fifty percent). This limits the amount one driver can get from another’s insurance if he or she was also somewhat at fault for the crash.

Contributary Negligence 

This means that you must be completely guiltless of fault to gain any compensation. If you were only a little at fault, you will still not be able to make a claim from the mainly guilty driver’s insurance. Due to the severity that this model can inflict on those who require money to recover from the accident, it is not implemented by most states, who choose to enforce versions of comparative negligence instead.

If you are in an accident and think you may be partially responsible for the crash — no matter how small a percent — don’t hesitate to consult with an attorney to see what options you have. There may be state laws you are not aware of or legal action that must be taken to get you on the right road to recovery.