A Basic Guide to Determining Car Accident Fault

A Basic Guide to Determining Car Accident Fault

When you’ve been involved in a car accident, determining fault is crucial. Depending on the verdict, there might be financial or legal repercussions for the parties implicated.

Police, insurers, and courts have their own procedure to determine car accident fault.

In this article, we’ll explain how each authority proceeds to find out who is at fault. Keep reading to learn more.

The Police

Once a car accident is reported to the police, officers are tasked with preparing a report about what has occurred.

They interview the drivers and any witnesses to understand what happened exactly.

Based on the officer’s professional judgment, the report may include a statement on who was at fault for the accident. Yet, that isn’t necessarily very common.

But even when the report declares a party responsible, it doesn’t necessarily mean the person will have to pay damages in a lawsuit.

As part of the investigation, a police officer may issue a traffic citation. A citation means that a law enforcement officer accuses a driver of infringing a traffic law.

In this case, the driver may incur a penalty such as a deduction of points or a fine.

Insurance Companies

Insurance companies start investigating a car accident after a claim has been filed. The investigator is called an adjuster. The adjuster has the task of overseeing the investigation until the settlement of the insurance claim.

Adjusters research the conditions of the accident and assess vehicle damage. They also interview witnesses and read medical reports.

Eventually, the adjuster on the case will determine car accident fault. Sometimes he will divide the responsibility between each driver.

The insurance companies will apportion the costs of the accident according to the recommendations of the report. They then compensate the drivers following the terms of their insurance policies.

To determine fault, insurance companies usually refer to the legal definition of negligence.


If you decide to file a lawsuit after an accident to recover damages, a court will determine who is responsible.

The court will listen to both parties’ lawyers and study all the evidence presented to them. There can be testimonies from the drivers, witnesses, law enforcement officers, and various experts.

A judge or a jury will have the final word based on the evidence that the defendant was negligent. They will determine whether the defendant must pay you damages to compensate for the injuries or losses incurred.

Do You Need a Lawyer?

If you’ve been in an accident, you might need to hire an attorney to help you recover damages. Find out in what circumstances you need a lawyer.

Determining Car Accident Fault

Determining car accident fault is essential for the application of the law. It’s also critical to find out whether financial compensation is in order.

Insurance adjusters are real investigators that will look at every aspect of the case before making their final report. If a lawsuit is filed, a court will decide the case by reviewing all the case elements and potentially calling on experts.

Consult the other articles in our Law section for more useful legal tips.

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Christophe Rude

Christophe Rude

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