Who’s at Fault During a Car Accident?

Car Crash

Being at fault, or being liable refers to the driver who caused the accident to happen due to either recklessness or negligence, and has to recompense the injured party for the damages instilled. The driver who is held liable will have to pay for the property damages, along with the personal injury damages. There are typically two reasons behind being at fault:

  • Negligence: The driver causes harm by something without paying mind or carelessly doing so that another person would not have done in that same circumstance.
  • Recklessness: The driver does something that they know can result in someone’s harm.

Different Types of Fault

‘Fault’ is the determining key for a driver’s case to either collect damages, or have to pay those damages. There are some states that do not care who caused the accident and have the insurance companies pay for the damages, which is known as no-fault rule. The states do take into account the percentage of at fault that each driver had, resulting in a cap in the awarded amount.

The different faults are placed in these three categories:

  • Pure Contributory Negligence: Even if the other driver had a fault percentage of 99, the driver would not get awarded anything if he/she played any part in the accident. Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington DC, are the states currently using this rule.
  • Pure Comparative Fault: An award will always be due to the driver, but will be reduced by the percentage of the fault. AK, AZ, CA, FL, KY, LA, MS, MO, NM, NY, RI, SD, WA, are the states currently using this rule.
  • Proportional Comparative Fault: The driver that is less responsible for the accident can collect for damages through share of fault, whereas the driver with the most fault would not collect anything. There is the version known as 50% Proportional Comparative fault which is when the eligibility of the driver finishes at 50% fault. If both drivers were equally responsible, none of the drivers will be able to collect. AR, CO, GA, ID, KS, ME, NE, ND, OK, TN, UT, WV are states currently using this rule.
  • Proportional Comparative Fault (51%): The eligibility of the driver finishes at 51% fault. Both parties will be able to collect if they were both equally responsible for the accident. CT, DE, HI, IL, IN, IA, MA, MI, MN, MT, NV, NH, NJ, OH, OR, PA, SC, TX, VT, WY, are the states currently using this rule.

Determining Fault

By simply looking at which car was hit is not a way to determine which driver was at fault. Police reports will be examined by insurance companies and attorneys. They will review to see if any negligence was mentioned or citations, although citations are not a means in proving fault, but they can help in supporting evidence. The sequence of events that led to the crash can be established only by reliable witnesses. The decision of which driver was at fault is subjective. Always seek the help of a Miami personal injury lawyer if you have fallen victim to a car accident.

There are two types of accidents where the at fault driver is very apparent:

  • Left turn collisions: These collisions typically happen because the driver trying to turn left tried to do so unsafely. There is always the slight possibility of the oncoming driver to have been speeding or running a red light, but these reckless behaviors should be spotted before the driver attempts to make a left turn.
  • Rear-end collisions: These crashes make the driver who hit the car at fault because they did not follow the driving rules and regulation of allowing sufficient space between both cars. There could be a share in fault if the driver who was hit did not have functioning break lights, or another car hit the at fault driver causing them to hit the car.
Percy Martinez began his career over 20 years ago with the late Attorney General of the United States, Janet Reno. What distinguishes his career is a fervent advocacy for his clients' rights and a robust success rate. During his career in public service and private practice, he has successfully argued thousands of cases before many distinguished judges and juries. You can follow him through the buttons below.

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