How Do You Determine Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident?

After a car crash, one of the first things that will need to be determined is who caused it. How do you determine who is at fault in a car accident? Depending on the circumstances of the accident, it might be quite obvious, but in other situations, determining who was at fault can be complicated.  Determining fault is important because insurance companies and juries will look at fault when awarding a settlement amount.

When fault is being disputed, insurance companies will typically consider the following to determine fault:

  • Police reports
  • Accident type
  • Traffic laws.

Proving fault can be very hard. Nobody wants to be blamed for an accident and see their insurance rates go up or potentially be sued. Even drivers who know they caused the accident will often deny it. But when you’ve been injured in a crash or suffered significant property damage because of a negligent driver, you deserve to have your losses paid for by the at-fault party.

Kentucky laws are complicated, making mistakes can be costly, and insurance companies and their attorneys will often try to put the blame on you so they can deny claims or pay out less than you deserve. To prevent problems, it can be very helpful to get the assistance of an experienced car accident attorney to represent you and handle all accident investigations and negotiations with insurance companies. Lawyers who have a background in handling motor vehicle accidents will have in-depth understanding of state traffic laws and the evidence needed to determine fault.

Police Reports Can Help Prove Fault in a Car Accident

In most cases, especially when there are injuries, police will respond to the scene of a crash. They will make a written report about the accident. In Kentucky, police reports typically contain contact and insurance information for drivers, where the accident happened, what the traffic, road and other conditions were like when the accident occurred and other information. Sometimes the officer who made the report might include details about how they believe the accident happened. This may or may not include a fault determination. If you have been in a crash, it is important to get a copy of the police report. You should review it to make sure it’s correct. If you don’t believe it is, you may need to gather more evidence to support this belief. It is also valuable to know what the insurance company is looking at in case there is information in the report that could hurt your claim.

Accident Type Often Determines Who Is at Fault

There are a couple of types of accidents that leave almost no doubt about which driver caused them. For example, rear-end collisions are almost always the fault of the driver who runs into the back of the other vehicle. Drivers are supposed to leave plenty of stopping distance between themselves and cars ahead. When they don’t and they hit a car in front of them, they are usually at fault. The same often holds true in left-turn crashes. People turning left should be sure there is no traffic coming toward them that has the right of way. But if the car going straight ran a red light or was speeding, there can be doubt about liability. In other crashes, the exact location of damage to vehicles can be analyzed to determine fault. It usually requires experts to determine fault in this way.

Traffic Laws Help Decide Who Is at Fault in an Accident

Violations of traffic laws are also looked at to help determine fault. Is one driver accusing another of an illegal lane change? Was one of the vehicles speeding? Or was a text sent on a driver’s cell phone shortly before the accident occurred? These are just some examples of potential traffic law violations that can be taken into account to discover who may have caused an accident. Additionally, if police issued any traffic tickets at the accident scene, this can be bad news for drivers on the receiving end when it comes to determining fault.

Car Accident Attorneys Help Prove Fault

When you have a car accident attorney working for you, your attorney will strive to prove fault legally by demonstrating the existence of the following factors:

  • Duty — Another party owed you a duty of reasonable care not to cause harm (such as by driving carefully and following the rules of the road).
  • Breach — The defendant breached this duty by actions or failure to act (such as failing to stop at a stop sign).
  • Cause — This breach caused the accident.
  • Damages — You suffered injuries and damages as a result.

Proving negligence and fault can be complicated, because there are often multiple reasons for an accident. There also may be several parties who may be at fault and liable for damages. These may include:

  • Another driver, who may have been intoxicated, distracted, or fatigued, or who failed to follow the rules of the road
  • The manufacturer of the vehicle or its parts, if these were defective or failed and caused the accident
  • A municipality or road repair company that failed to fix dangerous road conditions.

Your car accident attorney should investigate thoroughly to identify all parties who were negligent and at fault, as they may all have insurance or assets that can go toward a settlement.

What are Compensation Awards for Car Accidents

When you have been injured in a crash due to another driver’s negligence, you will likely have large medical bills and possibly have lost considerable time at work. Car crashes can result in major property damage as well as catastrophic injuries, the effects of which may be felt for a lifetime. In a successful case, the compensation you may be awarded should cover both your economic and noneconomic damages.

Economic damages cover the monetary damages you sustained, including:

  • Medical and rehabilitation expenses
  • Property damage such as repairs and replacement of your vehicle
  • Loss of wages and future earnings.

Non-economic damages do not have a specific dollar value but negatively impact your life. They typically consist of the following:

  • Pain and suffering — physical and emotional
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium and community
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Permanent disabilities.

While a damage award won’t fix your injuries, getting the largest amount possible can help you pay your bills and move on with your life. Proving the other party’s fault is critical to getting a full settlement.

Understanding Kentucky’s Pure Comparative Negligence System

Sometimes more than one person is found to be responsible for a car accident. When this happens in Kentucky, which is a pure comparative negligence state, any damage award you might get if you are successful in a legal claim will be reduced by the same percentage you are found to be at fault in causing the crash (Kentucky Revised Statutes section 411.182).

For example, if it is found that you were 20% at fault for causing the crash in which you were injured, your compensation will be reduced by that amount. If the total amount that you were awarded was $100,000, you would receive $80,000. This is why it is so important to not be found at fault.

Things to Do Following a Car Accident

If you are in a crash, there are important steps to take. Of course, the most important thing to do after an accident is to make sure everyone is okay. And if there are injuries, call 911 immediately. Be sure to get medical attention even if you don’t think you were injured, since injuries sometimes take time to show up. You should also get copies of medical reports, which may be used as evidence later. Following an accident, don’t apologize or say anything that can be interpreted as admitting fault. Leave fault determinations to investigators. If there were eyewitnesses, get contact information. And, importantly, consult with a car accident lawyer for help with your case. A lawyer can do the legwork of interviewing witnesses and obtaining other evidence to determine fault. Car accidents are stressful and confusing, and car accident cases are complex. It helps to have a skilled car accident attorney on your side.

Get Help from a Seasoned Car Accident Lawyer

When you or a loved one has been in a car accident because of the carelessness of another party, you should be entitled to compensation for your injuries and suffering. But before you can receive fair compensation, the question of who caused the accident must be determined.

If the other driver is denying fault, the Johnson Law Firm in Kentucky is here to help you. Billy Johnson has extensive experience with the court system and insurance companies and can help investigate the accident, determine responsibility, establish your claim, and fight for the compensation you deserve. We offer prospective clients a free initial case evaluation to explore your options, so call us today to get started.

GET HELP NOW 606-437-4488

Attorney Billy Johnson

William “Billy” Johnson grew up in the Dorton area of Pike County, Kentucky, and early on decided to stay in the beautiful Appalachian mountains. Like many others in Eastern Kentucky, Billy’s dad worked as a coal miner, a hard job but one that taught his son how to meet challenges head on and persevere. Attorney Billy Johnson has years of experience helping injured clients with claims such as car, truck, and motorcycle accidents, wrongful deaths, work injuries, and more. [ Attorney Bio ]

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