Learning who is at fault in a car accident isn’t as cut-and-dry as studying a police report. What you say and the work you put into your case can matter significantly to the final outcome. That outcome costs motorists $230 billion each year, so it’s worth putting in the work.
In the following article, we look at how fault is determined, as well as the steps you need to be taking in the aftermath to defend your position.
What You Need to Understand About Fault
First thing’s first. Police are not going to determine fault in an accident. That’s for the insurance companies and (often) the legal system to decide.
That said, what a police report says carries a lot of weight in the final determination. (Particularly when there is a citation involved.) If the other motorist receives a citation, that’s very good for your case.
However, it’s not necessarily insurmountable if you’re on the receiving end. It can still work to your advantage provided you’re following these six best practices.
1. Get Your Story Straight
The first step in determining a car accident fault is to recall exactly what you remember about the accident.
Details can be sketchy at first, so take some time to yourself to remember every last detail and even write them down before speaking to a responding officer.
2. Keep Calm
Another factor in determining who is at fault is keeping your cool. Emotions can run high causing you to say things that compromise your case. Just remember (and expect) that the other motorist’s version of events is likely to be very different from your own.
Sometimes they’re blatantly lying. Other times, they’re giving a version of events they honestly believe that might nevertheless be false. In either case, staying calm and sticking to your story will be your best bet.
3. Share Details With Responding Officer
After getting in a car accident, limit your interactions with the other person.
Instead, wait until the responding officer arrives and share the details with him or her. Use the time until their arrival to get the details right and contact your insurance company.
4. Obtain a Police Report
A police report will go a long way in determining fault in the accident. If a citation is issued for a traffic violation, insurers can use that to make the case for projecting fault on the other party.
However, any good car accident attorney will tell you that’s not the end of it. Nevertheless, stay on the scene until you have that report number and follow up to get a copy as soon as you can.
5. Scan Businesses for Surveillance Footage
Getting the car accident help you need shouldn’t be entirely contingent on the police. That’s because they’ve got many calls to handle in a day, and they’re not always going to investigate your case as in-depth as you can.
If you have received a citation you don’t agree with, do some legwork. Check with businesses in the area to see if they have surveillance footage of the accident that can verify your version of events. Last but not least, seek an experienced car crash lawyer to take your case.
Learning Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident Is Important to Your Case
Determining who is at fault in a car accident paves the way for the financial relief and justice you deserve.
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