Proving Fault After a Traffic Accident

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traffic accidentDetermining who is at fault for a traffic accident or injury can be complicated.

In most cases, common sense will tell you that one driver, motorcyclist, or pedestrian acted carelessly and is therefore at fault for the accident.

However, there may be some extenuating circumstances that will affect the way an insurance company, or even a court, will view who is at fault.

After an accident occurs, it is important to carefully review what happened at the accident scene.

As the victim of an accident, you will want to look for ways to prove that the other person or party was at fault. Three general ways to determine who is at fault are: obtaining police reports, reviewing state and local traffic laws, and the nature of the accident.

Police Reports
Any officer responding to the scene of the accident will file a police report. If it’s obvious who is at fault, the police officer may state in the police report that one person violated a traffic law and is therefore at fault. The officer may cite that careless driving was involved in causing the accident, further proving who is at fault. These police reports are a valuable resource in proving fault.

State and Local Traffic Laws
By reviewing state and local traffic laws, you may be able to find additional support to prove who is at fault in the accident.

Often known as the vehicle code, and more casually as “The Rules of The Road,” these state and local laws help determine who was in the wrong in given situations. If any of these rules apply to your accident, make sure to note it for reference when dealing with your insurance agency.

Common rules involving vehicle code include speed limits, “right of way” statutes, and roadway markings. These laws can sometimes be found at a local police office, and can always be found at local libraries or law libraries.

Nature of the Accident
When involved in certain types of accidents, the other driver is almost always at fault. In these certain types of accidents, the driver causing the accident has “no-doubt” liability.” Insurance companies rarely bother arguing about the following types of accidents because of “no-doubt” liability:

Rear-End Collisions:
If you are hit from behind while driving, it is rarely ever your fault. Regardless of why you stopped, the basic rules of the road require all drivers to be able to stop safely if traffic is stopped.

The damages from the accident will prove that it was a rear-end collision because the car that struck you will have front-end damage, and you will have rear-end damage. The driver that hit you may be able to file a claim against someone who caused you to stop suddenly, or a third party car behind them that pushed their car into yours, but that still does not change the fact that they are responsible for hitting your car and any injuries or damages that occurred from the accident.

Also keep in mind that your own carelessness may reduce the amount of compensation that you get from the accident. If your taillights were out and the car behind you couldn’t clearly see that you were stopped, this can be considered “comparative negligence” and you may not get as much compensation for any injuries or damages.

Left-Turn Accidents:
In almost every incident involving one car going straight down the road and another car making a left turn, the car making the left turn is at fault if an accident occurs. The damages to the cars will be a key indicator that a left-turn accident occurred – one car will have front-end damage and the other will have front-right side damage.

Exceptions to this rule are only made if the car traveling straight was going considerably over the speed limit or violated a major traffic law, such as running a red light.

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