Understanding How Fault Is Determined in a Car Accident

It’s up to insurance agencies to assess a car accident fault determination when claims are filed. Since it’s not always clear who or what caused an accident, insurance companies only rely on evidence presented to them by their clients. Here’s a look at what you need to know about factors that determine fault in an auto accident.

What Insurers Review in Auto Accident Claims?

Insurers for each of the parties involved in an accident will review the case. Evidence can be in the form of video, photos, measurements for skid marks, and witness statements. Sometimes crash site pedestrians have the most objective view of what happened.

However, many times, the evidence presented to insurers or a court is created after the accident happened. Such evidence can still be useful in proving who caused the crash.

Certain collisions are easy to assess if visual documentation shows exactly what happened. A driver who rear-ends another vehicle is usually considered at fault. When serious accidents occur, it’s imperative for the police to arrive and fill out an accident report that is available as evidence to all parties involved.

When Fault Is Not Obvious?

Sometimes, it is difficult for insurers to determine which party was at fault, especially in cases with minimal evidence. Even though most people carry smartphones with cameras, drivers and passengers typically don’t expect accidents. So when someone does capture an accident on video or photo, it’s usually by accident. With a lack of visual media evidence, it is possible for two or more insurance agencies to split the costs of paying out benefits.

Insurers might agree to split costs so that one firm pays 60 percent of injury and property damage costs while another pays 40 percent. A driver, for example, can mostly be responsible for rear-ending another vehicle. However, if the car in front swerved ahead of the rear vehicle, there could be a debate regarding who is at fault.

State Laws Affecting Fault

Each state passes its own laws regarding fault in auto accidents. A dozen states have no-fault laws, meaning no fault is assigned by insurers for accident claims. In these states, each party’s insurer pays for expenses that result from an accident. Here are the 12 states with no-fault laws:

  1. Florida
  2. Hawaii
  3. Kansas
  4. Kentucky
  5. Massachusetts
  6. Michigan
  7. Minnesota
  8. New Jersey
  9. New York
  10. North Dakota
  11. Pennsylvania
  12. Utah

At-fault states point the finger at drivers who caused an accident, putting the weight of responsibility on the driver’s insurance provider. Some states have pure contributory negligence laws in which those at fault are not awarded benefits. Comparative fault states allow insurers to limit benefits when a driver is partly at fault.

Lowering Insurance Costs by Avoiding Accidents

Talking with an experienced auto insurance agent licensed in your state can give you deeper insights on setting up the right plan for your needs and budget. No matter where you live in the United States, practicing defensive driving will help you avoid accidents. Taking a defensive driver safety course accredited by your state may get you an auto insurance discount, but first, ask your insurer about it.

Another way to lower your overall budget costs and risks of accidents further is to drive less. Not only will you be cutting fuel costs, but you’ll also limit your chances of getting into a crash while you’re helping the environment. Thinking in terms of sustainable goals will ensure a much smoother ride through your driving years. Sustainability encompasses economic efficiency, social responsibility, and public safety.

Auto accidents can be complex and must be assessed by insurance companies, which end up paying benefits to victims. If you are found to be at fault in an accident, it can impact your monthly premiums. The best plan is to focus on being a safe defensive driver and carry the right auto insurance coverage, which you can find at Kneller Insurance Agency. For further information on customizing your plan, contact us today.

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