When it comes to car accidents, most people consider themselves lucky to emerge from the collision unharmed. However, even if you’re fortunate enough only to have to worry about property damage in the aftermath of a crash, you and the other party must face the difficult task of determining fault.
Things can quickly turn ugly when drivers start pointing the finger of blame, and disagreements can escalate to lawsuits over what transpired. According to Forbes, here are three different ways of determining fault after a car accident and what you should do in each scenario:
1. The drivers involved decide who is at fault
In some cases, drivers may agree about who is responsible at the scene of the accident. However, the event’s initial shock can cause drivers to start accusing one another of fault or even point the finger at themselves. While you can determine who is at fault at the scene, be sure to still exchange contact, vehicle and insurance information with the other driver and take photos to avoid problems later on if someone changes their story.
2. The police report determines who is at fault
You may not think you need to involve the police if no one is hurt after an accident, but a police report can be a valuable tool for determining fault. A police report lays out the details of the accident, the damage, and the vehicles’ positioning at the scene. It can also provide a record of any of the factors that played a role in your accident, such as whether the other driver intoxicated or driving distracted. A police report will also be necessary if you file a claim with your insurance.
3. The insurance company decides who is at fault
In many cases, each driver’s insurers will determine who was to blame for the accident – especially if the drivers disagree. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll agree with the outcome or receive the compensation you deserve for your damages. In some cases, both you and the other driver may be at varying levels of fault, known as comparative negligence. For example, if the other driver ran a stop sign, but you were using your cellphone at the time of the crash, you may be partially at fault.
Proving who is to blame for a car accident is no easy feat, especially when emotions are running high. No matter how you decide to proceed, be sure to document evidence and get everyone’s contact information at the scene to protect yourself down the road.