How Do You Tell Who Is At Fault in a Car Accident?

Posted on June 27, 2023 in Car Accidents

You will need to investigate what happened and gather evidence to learn who is at fault in a car accident. However, this may seem like an insurmountable task if you’re suffering from serious injuries. For that reason, you may consider entrusting your case to a car accident lawyer. They can prove fault, liability, and your case’s other required elements––all without charging a penny out of pocket. Reach out to a car accident lawyer.


What Do I Have to Prove to Show Someone Else Caused a Crash?

How Do You Tell Who Is At Fault in a Car Accident?To prove another driver caused your accident, you must have a good understanding of what happened and the proximate cause of your crash. The proximate cause is the immediate action that directly preceded the collision and allowed it to occur. For example, when a driver runs a red light, their failure to stop is the proximate cause of an intersection crash.

As noted, you must have evidence to show how the other driver’s negligent actions caused your crash.

Then, using the information you find, you must demonstrate:

  • Duty of care: The driver owed you a duty of care, usually established by a traffic law or another applicable statute.
  • Breach of duty: The driver breached their duty of care, generally by violating a traffic law or acting recklessly.
  • Proximate cause: The driver’s carelessness or recklessness was the immediate cause of the crash.
  • Damages: You suffered damages because of the crash. This includes injuries, economic expenses, and non-economic losses.

Here’s an example to better understand these concepts. Imagine that a driver ran a red light and collided with another vehicle. Based on traffic laws, all drivers have a duty of care to stop when the traffic signal turns red. Running the red light breached that duty and caused the accident. To recover compensation, the victim must assert that they have damages, like property damage and injuries, stemming from the other party’s actions.

What if the Liable Party Is Not Another Driver?

While carelessness and recklessness behind the wheel are the most common causes of collisions, this is not true in every crash case. Sometimes, another party acts negligently and causes a crash.

This could occur when:

  • A mechanic fails to provide necessary repairs.
  • A problem with road design or maintenance causes the collision.
  • A pedestrian or bicyclist doesn’t yield the right-of-way.

In these examples, you will use the same criteria and evidence to document what happened and who caused the crash. Each of these parties can act negligently and cause collisions. Showing their negligence requires documentation of the same four elements.

What Is the Evidence Needed to Show Fault in a Car Accident?

The evidence available to show what occurred and who caused a traffic accident differs based on the circumstances. Some cases will have many eyewitnesses, videos, and a lot of supporting evidence. Others have a lot less to go on. However, every crash produces evidence. There is almost always some way to better understand what occurred, even when an accident’s cause isn’t obvious.

Some common types of evidence used to show fault and liability in car accident cases include:

  • The accident report filed by the responding police officers
  • Any surveillance, traffic, or dashcam video of the crash
  • Photos or videos from the scene
  • An accident scene survey
  • Eyewitness statements and interviews
  • Accident reconstruction data
  • Physical evidence
  • Relevant medical records
  • Expert testimony from doctors, economists, and others
  • Documentation of damages, including medical bills, receipts, and other paperwork

As you can imagine, some of this evidence is readily available to victims as they build cases to support their claims. However, other types of evidence require knowledge, experience, and resources to secure. Working with a car accident attorney can make it easier to identify, gather, and analyze evidence, in addition to helping you negotiate a fair settlement or otherwise recover compensation in your case.

Victims can use this evidence to support their insurance claims and negotiate for fair compensation. This evidence will also lay the foundation for a civil lawsuit against the at-fault driver if necessary. When this occurs, the discovery process will also open the door for additional evidence gathering. This could include sworn testimony from the at-fault motorist in the form of interrogatories (written) or depositions (verbal).

Why Is Proving Fault Important in a Car Accident Case?

Determining fault and proving who caused a car accident is essential to recovering fair compensation in most states. Most states allow car accident victims to seek compensation for their expenses and losses by filing an auto liability claim or a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who caused their crash.

To hold that driver accountable and recover the money they need, the injured party must provide a strong case to show:

  • The other driver acted negligently.
  • That driver caused the crash.
  • The claimant suffered damages.

Recovering compensation through an insurance claim or civil case is the only way to get the money you need for medical care and other expenses. Unless you pursue and secure monetary damages from another party, you must pay these costs yourself.

Crash victims should not have to shoulder the financial and emotional burden of a collision and injuries. Instead, this should fall to the party whose carelessness or recklessness directly led to the collision. This is the best way to get justice in the case; recovering fair compensation intends to make victims whole again. While this is not always true because of lasting injuries and tough emotional effects, it is the closest most victims can get.

In addition, if you do show that the other driver caused the crash, they might try to blame it on you. When this occurs, they could file a claim based on your insurance or sue you in civil court. This can cause a lot of headaches, especially when you know you were the accident victim and need to recover compensation to pay your bills.

An Attorney Can Tell Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident Case

When you hire an attorney to manage your car accident case, you do not have to worry about navigating the claims process, determining fault and liability, or calculating a fair settlement range. The law firm you partner with will handle all case-related tasks from start to finish. With legal assistance, you can focus fully on undergoing treatment, healing, and getting back to your previous activities.

What Can You Expect From Your Car Accident Lawyer?

Car accident lawyers understand how these cases work and the importance of developing a strong case. They will investigate what happened, gather evidence, and build a compelling case to show the at-fault driver caused the crash and is liable.

In addition, you can count on your lawyer to handle many other case-related tasks, including:

  • Protecting your right to pursue fair compensation in court
  • Ensuring you meet all applicable deadlines when possible
  • Managing all communications with the insurance company
  • Providing regular case updates
  • Offering legal guidance and advice as necessary
  • Demanding fair compensation from the insurer
  • Negotiating for a fair settlement agreement
  • Explaining your options and guiding decisions
  • Suing the liable party when necessary
  • Representing your best interests to all involved parties

You Pay Nothing Upfront to Secure an Attorney’s Assistance

Most personal injury law firms work based on contingency. This means they do not charge clients any upfront fees. You will not need to pay a retainer or track hourly fees to understand how much your case could cost you. Instead, car accident lawyers receive a portion of the compensation they recover for you. You will not need to pay them out of your own accounts.

Instead, they receive a percentage of your payout. They do not get paid if they do not recover monetary damages for you. You can ask questions and learn more about this fee structure during your free initial consultation with the firm.

When Should I Hire a Lawyer to Handle My Case?

Many crash victims hire an attorney to handle their cases from the start. Others wait until they run into a problem before making the call. Either way is acceptable, and your lawyer should break ground on your case as soon as possible. However, there are advantages to enlisting help early.

Some evidence fades or disappears entirely if it is not preserved in the days and weeks after a crash. Promptly partnering with a lawyer allows them to identify and save this crucial evidence.

Examples of time-sensitive information include:

  • Surveillance video of the collision
  • Eyewitness statements
  • Physical evidence from the scene
  • Conditions at the scene

In addition, each state sets a deadline for beginning a personal injury lawsuit. This is the deadline for filing the initial paperwork that notifies the court and all involved parties about the case. While state law and exceptions to these statutes of limitations determine the timeline in your case, it is still important to act as quickly as possible after a crash.

The applicable statute of limitations might give you one to three years following an accident to sue, but some circumstances shorten this period dramatically. It also takes time to investigate, document, and prepare to file suit. An attorney will ensure you meet the appropriate deadlines, but only if they know about your case in time to do so.

What Damages Can I Recover From the At-Fault Driver in My Case?

The damages recoverable in a car accident case depend on the expenses and losses you suffered due to the crash, your injuries, and the necessary treatment. You will need to collect documentation of your costs throughout the process to accurately calculate the value of your case. This includes medical bills, receipts, time away from work, and more.

The damages recoverable differ in each case, but some common types include:

  • Medical bills and related expenses
  • Future and/or ongoing care and support
  • Income losses for time missed at work
  • Reduced ability to work and earn based on lasting injuries
  • Property damage costs
  • Related out-of-pocket expenses, including traveling for medical appointments
  • Pain and suffering
  • Other non-economic damages, including disability and scarring

Sometimes, you can recover other damages. This depends greatly on the case. For example, if your loved one passed away in a crash, your family might recover wrongful death damages by filing an insurance claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Your attorney will help you understand the recoverable losses in these cases.

One major role of your lawyer is to identify and value the recoverable damages. They calculate what a fair settlement range might look like and pursue a payout based on that. This is the focus during settlement negotiations with the insurance company.

How Much Can I Recover After a Car Accident?

Like many facets of your case, how much you can recover after a car accident depends on your situation. Your receipts, invoices, and bills will help your lawyer determine a fair settlement range for your economic losses. Your non-economic losses are a different story since they don’t come with verifiable dollar values. In that regard, your lawyer will assess your situation as a whole to learn what constitutes a fair value.

You Can Discuss Your Options With a Car Accident Law Firm for Free

Robert W. Boatman, Car Accident Lawyer in Phoenix, AZ 

If you suffer injuries in a traffic accident, working with a car accident attorney can make the process of seeking and recovering damages much easier. You do not have to determine fault in a car accident on your own. A personal injury firm represents crash victims and helps them build compelling compensation cases. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer.

You can work with a car accident team and get legal representation in your claim or lawsuit with no upfront cost. As noted, you do not need to pay anything to secure legal counsel for your crash case. Your lawyer should work based on contingency, meaning they receive a portion of the compensation they recover for you. This offers little financial risk when entrusting your case to a lawyer.