Many factors are at play in a motor vehicle accident claim that resulted in injuries. However, one issue is the most prominent and can make or break a lawsuit when it comes to determining fault.
No one will dispute that two vehicles collided with each other or when or where the collision occurred. Finding fault comes from various reports generated from law enforcement entities, auto insurance companies, and courtroom personnel.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 6.7 million crashes occurred in 2018, the last year reported. Of those accidents, 2.7 million resulted in injuries, with 36,000 killed. Nearly five million of those collisions resulted only in property damage, with claims averaging a little over $4,000 in 2016, the latest data available.
Various factors and parties come into play when identifying who is at fault for a motor vehicle accident.
Few drivers who emerge from an accident are thinking clearly. In addition to the exchange of information, a certain amount of finger-pointing is common. While less is more in communicating with the other accident victim, some drivers can incriminate themselves with the shortest of conversations. Simply put, both parties should wait for the police to arrive and use that time to document evidence ranging from pictures to witness accounts.
First and foremost, police will first ask drivers if they are “okay,” and call for medical help if necessary. From there, they conduct their investigation of the scene, specific vehicle damage, positioning of the cars, and any outside factors that include cell phone use and DUI.
Rulings by Insurance Companies
The police report will be a part of the evidence chain that insurance companies use to make their determinations. The document is useful if lawsuits are filed over injuries or vehicle damage. If they determine that the driver they insured is not at fault, they will pursue restitution from the other motor vehicle operator. More serious accidents will likely be decided by arbitration or litigation.
Crashes that only result in monetary damages can be pursued in small claims court, although limitations in potential compensation exist. What is not necessarily limited is the options victims injured by negligent drivers have to hold them accountable.