Determining Fault in a Car Accident: How Claim Adjusters Determine Liability


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When you call your insurance company after a crash, one of their jobs is determining fault car accident. Though statements from the police officer at the scene are used as evidence in the accident, and the police may even write a ticket; the two insurance companies involved will determine fault.

Determining fault after a car accident is big business for the insurance companies. Claim adjusters are well trained in the business of finding out what really happened, and, if possible, avoiding responsibility for their client. This isn’t really for the client’s benefit, but to avoid more payout than is required. There are essentially three “driver responsibilities” that insurance adjusters consider when determining fault in car accident.

Lookout, Accident Avoidance and Following the Rules

The first driver responsibility is lookout. This simply means that you should always be on the alert when you’re driving. Accidents often happen when drivers are simply not giving their full attention to the road. You could be considered to have breached your driver responsibility of looking out, for example if you were texting or talking on your cell phone when the accident occurred.

The second is avoidance.  Both drivers should attempt to avoid the accident. Even if a car pulls out right in front of you, it’s still your driver duty to avoid the accident if possible.

The third is following the rules of the road. If you’re not in full compliance with all the laws of the road when the accident occurs, you’re more likely to be blamed when the adjuster is determining fault after the car accident.

Percentage of Fault and Damages

As the adjuster works to determine fault, they will use the percentage that each driver breached his or her driver responsibility as part of determining fault in the car accident. If you haven’t breached any of your responsibilities, then you can’t be found at fault.

However, the breach of responsibility must have been part of the cause of the accident, as well. For example, if the bulb on your tail light is blown out and you are hit from the rear, this failure to follow the rules of the road is a breach that is partially the cause of the accident. However with this same blown tail light, if you are hit from the side, this breach could not be found to have causation.

These factors are used together to determine who is “most” at fault. The person at fault is typically responsible for damages. Adjusters are typically very skilled at determining fault after a car accident. But, they do sometimes make mistakes.

Get an Attorney

Getting legal help is always a good idea after a car accident. This is particularly true if you’ve been found to be at fault from a car accident; and perhaps wrongly so. Your attorney will be able to negotiate with the insurance companies to help you get the coverage and compensation that you deserve.

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