How is Fault Determined in a Car Accident?
The determination of fault is crucial following a car, motorcycle, or truck accident. While accidents certainly happen, there are a number of variables in any auto accident. Sometimes fault is clearly on the side of one driver or the other, while other times, both drivers may bear some responsibility for the accident. Every state in the United States has adopted its own laws which determine how a personal injury claim following an auto accident will be handled. Some states do not allow a party to recover for an injury if that party bears any fault at all for the accident.
Other states allow recovery, so long as the injured party bears less than 50 or 51 percent of the fault. The state of Louisiana operates under what is known as pure comparative fault. This means that an injured party is allowed to recover for injuries, even if he or she was more at fault than the other driver. Under Louisiana Civil Code 2323, a claimant or plaintiff’s claim is reduced in direct proportion to his or her level of fault. Under this law, even if you were determined to be 60 percent responsible for the auto accident, you could still recover 40 percent of your total damages.
Who determines fault in an auto accident?
Even if you are sure you did nothing to cause the auto accident, in the end, you are not the person who is allowed to determine who was at fault. In most auto accidents, the police will determine who was at fault in the form of an accident report. An accident report contains all relevant information, including contact information of both drivers, the location of the accident, insurance information, and the police officer’s own observations regarding the accident. The police will talk to both parties, talk to witnesses, if there were any, assess the damage to each car, then weigh all the information to make a determination of which driver was at fault.
Even so, if the police decide one driver was a fault, but that driver staunchly denies responsibility, the insurance company will then review all the evidence to determine fault. The other way to determine fault is if one driver admits he or she caused the accident. It is extremely important that you not admit fault at the scene of the accident. You may not have all the information about the accident, so could be admitting fault when the other driver was also at fault. You should never admit guilt at the scene of the accident, even to the point of not saying, “I’m sorry.” While you may be only being polite, saying “I’m sorry” could be misconstrued as guilt.
What is the process for proving fault after an auto accident?
As noted, the police are the first on the scene of the accident, and, as such, generally make the determination of which driver was as fault. If the police cannot come to a determination or the driver the police believe is responsible denies liability, then the insurance companies will step in and try to determine which driver is liable—or, mostly liable. All available evidence will be taken into consideration when determining fault, including statements from the drivers and passengers, witness statements, evidence such as skid marks, traffic cam video, if available, and information from the vehicle’s data recorder.
How does the process work if the claimant is partially at fault?
If you were partially at fault for the accident, then you are fortunate to live in Louisiana. While some states will not allow you to receive any compensation whatsoever for your injuries if you were even the slightest bit at fault, Louisiana’s pure comparative fault does allow that.
How Can an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Help After an Auto Accident?
How much you will recover for your auto accident injuries is largely determined by which driver is judged to be at fault for the accident. It is important that you speak with a qualified Louisiana personal injury attorney prior to giving any statements or speaking to the other driver’s insurance company. At Hoffoss Devall, we take your auto injury claim seriously and will fight hard for your rights and your future. Contact Hoffoss Devall today!