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How to Determine Fault in a Motor Vehicle Accident

by Business Bod

It’s frightening to think that 1.3 million people die, and a further 20 to 50 million suffer non-fatal injuries worldwide each year in road crashes. If you’ve been unfortunate enough to be in a road accident, you could be entitled to significant compensation.

However, it isn’t always easy to determine fault in a motor vehicle accident. The drivers involved may seek to put the blame on the other party, and this can lead to lengthy and costly disputes.

This is why it’s important to know the different ways in which you can identify who is at fault when proving your claim.

Discuss Liability with the Other Driver

In the simplest cases, you may be able to determine fault by having a civilized conversation with the other driver. If they are clearly at fault, they may be happy to admit liability. Even if there is some dispute, you could resolve your differences at the scene, rather than going through more formal channels.

This scenario could become more complicated if there are multiple drivers involved, as each party could have a different recollection of events. You should also be wary of a driver admitting fault, and then later retracting their statement.

Consider the Positions of the Cars

The positioning of the cars may provide vital evidence as to who caused the road crash. For example, if a vehicle has crossed the center line onto the other side of the road, this would strongly suggest that the driver of that car is at fault.

However, there may be times when both drivers appear to have veered from their lanes and collided in the middle of a road. This can make it more challenging to determine who instigated the accident.

Inspect the Location of the Damage

When attempting to prove another driver was the negligent party in an at-fault vehicle accident, the damage caused can be used as evidence. If you were driving forwards at the time, and the only damage is to the rear of your vehicle, it would seem likely the other driver is the guilty party.

Similarly, if you are on a main road, and a driver pulls out of a minor road and damages the side of your car, they will probably be considered at fault.

Look at the Surrounding Environment

Although it’s natural to focus on the road and vehicles when deciding on fault after a motor vehicle accident, you should also consider less obvious factors. This could include features of the environment that may have contributed to the crash.

For example, if someone has erected a large sign that has blocked the other driver’s view, this could explain why they didn’t see your vehicle. Or, there could be low-hanging tree branches that obstructed a motorist’s vision. Although they might not definitely prove another driver was at fault, these factors could strengthen your case.

Take Photos You Can Review at a Later Date

You may be shaken, or even in shock, after a car crash. This can make it difficult to think clearly, and you might not notice evidence that indicates who caused the accident. You could also feel under pressure to move your vehicle out of the way quickly if it’s holding up other traffic on the road.

But you should try to take as many photos as possible immediately after the crash. If your phone has a camera, you can quickly snap photos that could prove crucial.

Although you may think you have a good view of the accident scene, it may help to walk around the cars. This will allow you to get different angles that may give you a more complete picture of what happened.

Details such as the exact locations of the vehicles may later come into question, but if you have photographic evidence, this will only help your case.

Look for Witnesses

It can help to have independent witnesses who can verify what they saw when the accident occurred. While a passenger in your car could be considered a witness, their opinion may be biased towards supporting your version of events.

However, if there are observers who have no relationship with you, they can give an impartial statement that could hold more weight in court. When looking for witnesses, consider pedestrians in the area and other drivers. You might also notice there are homes or stores nearby where people could have been looking out of the windows.

If you find witnesses, be sure to take down their contact details so you can pass them on to your insurance company and the police.

Ask for Dashcam and CCTV Footage

In the modern day, dashcams and CCTV footage may be available after a car accident. If you don’t have a dashcam in your vehicle, you may notice that other cars that were in the vicinity have them fitted. These can be superb sources of information that prove precisely who was at fault for the crash.

CCTV is also common, particularly in locations where there are stores and offices. If a CCTV camera has footage of the incident, this could be critical evidence.

Check With Your Insurance Company

Your insurers will deal with motor vehicle accidents every day and be experts in establishing which party is at fault. Their employees will help you provide all the information required and be able to provide an opinion based on many years of experience.

But, your insurance company will not be the only party involved, and there will also be a third party’s insurance company who may have a different viewpoint. There may even be times when your own insurers admit liability even when you feel you are the innocent party.

To make sure you are properly represented you can hire an attorney. A specialist lawyer will be able to fight your claim and seek compensation. This applies whether you were in a vehicle or if you were a pedestrian at the time of the collision.

If you’ve been the victim of a road accident, you could benefit from hiring a pedestrian accident lawyer to help you prove your case.

Read the Police Report

The police will also be experienced in handling road traffic accidents. Their report could include information that would support your claim such as measurements showing where each car was located on the road. There may also be photos that are more detailed than the ones you took at the time of the crash.

Police reports will also be unbiased, so the evidence gathered will be seen as more reliable than that of the drivers involved in the accident.

Let the Case Go to Arbitration

There are occasions when both insurers refuse to accept blame, but going to court can be expensive. This is when using an arbitration panel can be useful and help you prove that the other driver is at fault.

Rather than continuing to argue with a third party, you can instead seek an independent opinion from an external arbiter. Should an impartial body rule in your favor, this will show that your version of events is more plausible than the other’s driver’s story.

Go to Court

Unfortunately, sometimes it isn’t possible to prove that you are the innocent party in a vehicle accident without going to court. A jury can listen to the evidence you present and decide if they agree that the other party was at fault.

However, going to court can be a daunting experience. You may also be unsure how to give your evidence in a clear and concise manner. This is when hiring a car accident lawyer can be worthwhile.

A qualified professional will explain why the other driver is at fault in a motor vehicle accident. They will also be able to counter any spurious claims put across by the other party, helping to prove your innocence.

Try to Stay Calm Following a Motor Vehicle Accident

It’s easier said than done, but if you can keep a clear head following a motor vehicle accident, you could gather vital evidence. Being able to provide photos and CCTV footage could be crucial factors that help you prove who is at fault, while statements from witnesses could be decisive. You may also find your insurers or the courts will make the final decision on your behalf.

Hopefully, you’ll be able to avoid being in a car accident and won’t need to use this new knowledge.

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