Determining Fault in a Car Accident

If you have been in a car accident and have suffered losses such as property damage and physical injury, you may consider pursuing a car accident claim as a way to make up for the financial losses incurred. One of the most critical components to a successful claim will be proving that the other party is at fault for the accident. While this can be reasonably straightforward in some cases, in different situations, determining fault can quickly become complicated. While law enforcement will play a vital role in this process, so will the evidence gathered in support of your claim. Be aware that both parties may be partially at fault for the accident in some situations, which is why it may be a good idea to have the representation of a car accident lawyer. They can assist with filing an insurance claim and negotiating a fair settlement in your favor.  

Law Enforcement Play a Key Role

When car accidents happen, those involved should always be sure to notify law enforcement. Depending upon the damage and whether injuries occurred, they will come to the scene in many cases. Police will make sure that everyone is safe, document the accident’s details, and gather as much information as possible. Their role is crucial in that they will understand what happened and may even assist with determining fault. Typically a police report is generated that will outline who may be responsible for the accident.

Additionally, they may even issue traffic citations if any traffic laws were violated. A Memphis, TN car accident lawyer like one from Darrell Castle and Associates, PLLC will tell their clients that evidence will be necessary to determine fault and receive the best possible outcome. The police report will act as essential evidence that may encapsulate the events that transpired at the time of the accident. 

Understanding Comparative Negligence

When determining fault, both parties may be partially responsible for the accident— as many states across the country access the comparative negligence system. Comparative negligence means that the defendant can say that the plaintiff was responsible in some way for the accident. This may significantly reduce the settlement that a plaintiff may be entitled to. For example, if the damages are $50,000 and the plaintiff is 10% responsible for the accident, the defendant will be 90% liable. This means the award owed to the plaintiff may be reduced by 10%. However, it’s essential to understand that there can be variations to the law depending upon the state you live in, which is why speaking with a car accident lawyer is important.

Filing a Claim

The moments following a car accident are often filled with chaos. There may be confusion over the events that have just transpired, and along with vehicle damage, those involved may be contending with physical injuries as well. While the immediate steps will include contacting the police and seeking medical care, in the time following, it may be in your best interest to pursue an accident claim with the insurance company for your losses. In some cases, if the other driver is at fault, their insurance company may reach out, offering a small sum of money. Beware should this occur, it’s in your best interest to speak with a lawyer before agreeing to anything. When you work with a lawyer, they will guide you through the process of gathering evidence and assigning a settlement value to your case. They will then submit a letter demanding a settlement from the insurance company. At this point, the negotiation process will begin. It should come as no surprise that, should the insurance company accept the claim, they will provide an initial settlement offer that is well below what you deserve. Your lawyer can then play a pivotal role in negotiating a fair and favorable settlement. 

When an accident claim is filed, an insurance adjuster will be assigned to investigate and review the claim. Once an adjuster has evaluated the claim, they will either approve or deny the request. There can be so much riding on a successful outcome for victims, which is why one of the first calls made should be to an experienced car accident lawyer for guidance.