Car accidents can be quite sudden. You’re driving along humming with your favorite song on the radio, and then next thing you know, there’s an impactful crunch, and you’re dealing with injuries, police asking questions, and broken glass strewn across the blacktop.
It’s easy to see how car accidents shake people up. It’s not impossible that you’ll have to deal with PTSD following a bad accident, just the same as with a kidnapping victim or combat veteran.
When these things happen, from a legal standpoint, there is nothing that matters more than figuring out whose fault it was. That’s how insurance companies and the courts determine who’s going to pay whom.
While there are many factors that can go into determining car accident fault, we’re going to look at five of them that matter a great deal.
Drinking or Drug Use
When you’re trying to determine whose fault a car accident was, one of the first things that investigators will ask is whether alcohol or illicit drugs played any part. Maybe this looks like a no-fault accident at first glance. However, the police determine that you or the other driver:
- Ingested alcohol before driving
- Ingested street drugs or Schedule One pharmaceuticals before driving
This changes the scenario. Even if you don’t feel like you did anything wrong that caused the crash, the presence of drugs or alcohol in your system is damning evidence against you.
It’s hard to argue that you’re not responsible if a breathalyzer says otherwise.
Speed also causes many car accidents. If two vehicles collide, and one of them was speeding:
- You’ll probably see more extensive damage
- You might even see fatalities or serious injuries
If both vehicles are going the speed limit, and they collide, it could mean a fender bender or something relatively harmless. It’s when one driver or the other was going much faster than they should that makes a catastrophe more likely.
If the empirical evidence from a car accident scene demonstrates that you or the other driver was going over the speed limit, the authorities will likely blame that individual for what happened, either wholly or partially.
If something distracted either you or the other driver when the crash occurred, that’s also the driver who must likely shoulder the blame. Many things can distract drivers, like a Bluetooth conversation, the kids screaming in the backseat, an interesting billboard, or a heated passenger debate.
Whatever it is, it might cause the accident. The tricky part could be proving it. Maybe you’re sure the other driver was texting when they ran into your vehicle.
You may have to track down some eyewitnesses that can testify that’s what they saw too. If it’s your word versus the other driver’s, you might know what you saw, but by the time the smoke clears, the other person has put their phone away.
The courts might count this as a no-fault accident unless you can prove definitively what you saw.
The Police Report
You can also use the police report sometimes to prove the other driver’s fault. When the police arrive at an accident scene, they should take detailed notes on what they see. You might subpoena that report because it contains crucial details that prove your story.
You might even call the police officer to the stand or other first responders who got to the accident scene first. They can talk about vehicle position, skid marks on the ground, and what both you and the other driver first said if somewhere tries to change their story.
Pictures and Video
One final thing you might use to determine car accident fault is any video or pictures you took at the scene. That’s why you should always have your smartphone when you’re driving.
The other driver might say that things happened differently, but it’s hard to argue with empirical evidence. If you can take as many pictures and as much video as possible at the accident scene, those will probably go a long way toward convincing a jury of the other driver’s guilt if you end up filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Generally, the more documentation you can produce, the better your chances of winning a car accident lawsuit. If what happened was obviously the other driver’s fault, and you can collect money from them, you might use that to pay for things like medical bills or to recoup your expenses if you’re off work recovering for a while.