How to Determine Fault after a Vehicle Collision

Without much evidence, it can be difficult to determine which party may have caused a car collision because crashes are almost always accidents. The standpoint of an insurer is used to establish who is at fault. The police report can also be immensely helpful in determining what exactly occurred, and can be effective for understanding who was at fault without bias.

Fault-based States and No-fault States

Most states take a fault-based approach to car insurance. If an accident occurs in a state that is fault-based, the insurance company of the driver who caused the accident based on insurance reports will normally provide support with payment for damages according to the policy of the driver.

No-fault states, however, are states that choose to have insurance laws that designate no fault. Residents of these states could be forced to obtain personal injury protection. The insurance company for both drivers will pay for their own driver’s healthcare costs to a designated amount.

Property damage will still be allocated in a fault-based manner, however. This means that the insurance company of the at-fault driver should cover repair expenses after the vehicle collision.

Who Must Pay in a Legal Liability Situation?

Typically, insurers establish fault from the delineation of negligence, according to the law of the state. Individual states may have more than one kind of negligence rule in jurisdiction.

Contributory negligence (also called pure contributory negligence)

A rigid method of determining fault and designating which party is responsible for damages is pure contributory negligence. People who were even just 5% responsible for an accident would not be paid for car maintenance or bodywork, injuries, and more. People need to be entirely faultless, such as having their car hit while they were parked legally.

Comparative negligence

Certain states utilize comparative negligence (usually a strict type), which is the percentage of fault that both drivers have. This gives people the opportunity to receive compensation, even if they are only slightly at fault. Damages can be awarded that are proportionate to how responsible the driver was for the accident. Jason Hennessey, marketing consultant for Houston Accident Attorney affirmed, “If a driver is abruptly rear-ended by a speeding car after they just changed lanes, both drivers could be at fault.”

Modified comparative negligence

A modified version of comparative negligence inhibits a driver from beginning a claim directly through the insurance of another party. For example, drivers in Colorado, Utah, and Illinois may only recover loss if they were less than 50% at fault.

Influence of Fault on Costs of Car Insurance

The driver at fault of causing the accident may not always experience car insurance costs to rise right away. The insurance company will have many factors to examine, including learning more about the situation that caused the crash to occur and the driver’s past driving record, prior to increasing the rate. If insurance costs do get raised, the best method of starting over is to begin a fresh phase of careful, collision-free driving.

Melissa Thompson
Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn't know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.