How To Determine Fault in a Car Accident

October 31, 2020 Posted In Car Accidents

If you get into a car accident in California, it will be your responsibility to determine fault for the collision if you wish to file an insurance claim. California is a fault state, meaning its insurance system relies on identifying the at-fault party. Before you can receive compensation for your medical bills and vehicle repairs, you will need to determine fault with a few essential steps.

Call the Police

While the police will not assign fault for a car accident outright, they can penalize a driver they find to have broken a roadway rule or traffic law. The police may issue a ticket for a speeding violation, reckless driving or another infraction, for example, after showing up at the scene of your car accident. If the other driver receives a traffic citation, this could serve as evidence of his or her fault for the accident. Additionally, an official police accident report can describe the key factors of the accident and provide information that can help with your insurance claim later.

Collect Evidence From the Scene

Fault for a car accident generally comes down to which driver was negligent. The law of negligence states that if someone breaches a duty of care and this is what causes another person’s injuries, the negligent party will be liable for damages. Determining negligence often requires evidence gathered from the scene of the accident. You, your Moreno Valley accident lawyer or an insurance company can use the evidence you collect at the scene to determine fault.

  • Photographs of damaged vehicles
  • Photographs of skid marks, hidden signs and other evidence from the scene
  • Video footage from the scene
  • Statements from eyewitnesses
  • Police report number

Do your best to collect evidence while you are still at the scene of your crash. If you are too injured to do this right away, either return to the crash scene when you can or ask a friend or relative to collect the evidence for you. Calling the police right away can also help you gather evidence, as the responding officer can take official photos and collect witness statements for you.

Visit Local Businesses

After you receive medical care for your injuries, go back to where the car accident happened and look around at nearby businesses. If you see any with security cameras that are pointed at the road where the collision occurred, go inside to request copies of the footage. Most businesses will allow you access to the footage if you are working with a police officer to investigate the crash. The police may also request copies of this footage on the day of your accident. Ask employees at the businesses if they saw the accident as well. If so, they may be able to serve as eyewitnesses.

Talk to Eyewitnesses

Eyewitness testimony is an important type of evidence during a car accident claim. Something an eyewitness saw may prove the other driver caused your crash. An eyewitness may have information that nobody else has, such as a description of the other vehicle in a hit-and-run crash. If you can, talk to eyewitnesses while still at the scene of the crash. Ask for their names, addresses and contact phone numbers. You may take their statements at the scene, either by writing them down and having them sign the statement or recording them on your phone. You can also contact witnesses later for statements.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney Near You

Determining fault for a car accident can be difficult alone. You may not have the time or resources to thoroughly investigate the car accident or prove fault. A Riverside car accident attorney, on the other hand, will have connections to professionals such as crash reconstructionists, engineers and experts to piece together how your crash occurred. A lawyer can help you determine fault and bring a claim against the correct party. Then, your lawyer can help you prove the defendant’s liability using evidence. Working with an attorney on your car accident claim can improve its odds of success.

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