How Do You Determine Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident?

During a typical year, more than 100,000 car accidents occur in the state of Washington, according to WSDOT. Many of these crashes will have a clear-cut cause, leading to a police accident report that assigns fault. But how do you determine who is at fault in a car accident? What steps do police follow in the investigation of a crash to figure out which driver’s actions led to the accident?

Police will investigate the accident scene, looking at physical evidence. This will include things like studying the damage on the vehicles involved and skid marks on the road. They will determine what kinds of traffic signs and signals are available to control traffic in the area of the crash. They also will interview those involved in the crash and witnesses to the crash to try to make a determination of which driver caused the situation that led to the accident.

Why Is It Important to Determine Fault in an Injury Car Accident?

After a car crash, an injured driver or passenger may want to bring a personal injury lawsuit to try to recover medical costs, lost wages, and a pain and suffering damages. However, to damages, the injured driver or passenger needs to be able to show that the other driver is at fault for the crash. This is where consulting with a personal injury attorney in Ellensburg becomes crucial, as they can offer expert legal guidance and representation. After determining fault, the insurance company that represents the driver who is at fault may be willing to settlement without going to court.

Finding Help for Your Case

If the insurance company refuses to accept blame on behalf of its driver, you may need to hire us to file a lawsuit. Our team can negotiate with the insurance company to try to have it accept or go to court if it is necessary.

If we go to court, both sides would present their own facts about the crash at a trial. A judge or jury then would make a determination about who was at fault for the crash and to what percent.

How Do You Know Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident?

Reading the Police Report

Sometimes, the police officer investigating the case will make a determination of fault for one of the drivers. The officer then may include that determination in the written section of the report. Additionally, the officer may issue a citation for a traffic violation to one of the drivers. The officer may say in the report that this traffic violation caused the crash, which shows fault on the part of the ticketed driver.

Admitting Fault

In the aftermath of the crash, one of the drivers may admit fault. If this happens, and one of the witnesses tells police that one driver admitted fault, this information may end up in the police report. An insurance company then may assign blame for the crash to the person who admitted fault.

How Do Insurance Companies Determine Who’s at Fault?

An insurance company trying to avoid paying a personal injury settlement after a crash may do its own investigation of the crash. It may specifically look for evidence that shows its insured driver did not do anything to cause the accident. Some of the ways insurance companies to try show that their insured is not at fault include:

  • Relying on the police report: If the police report shows one driver caused the crash, the insurer usually will rely on the report. Usually if the report places blame squarely on the insurer’s driver, the insurance company accept that its driver was at fault.
  • Interviewing witnesses: If the police report is not clear about assigning fault, the insurance company may start its own investigation. This likely will include interviewing witnesses and the drivers involved.
  • Reviewing video: If any video of the accident exists, the insurance company likely will review it, looking for evidence that its driver did not cause the crash.
  • Hiring crash recreation experts: In complicated crashes, the insurer may find an expert who can use the evidence from the crash to try to determine exactly what happened. The expert may be wiling to testify in a personal injury lawsuit that the insurer’s driver is not to blame.

Our Team Can Help You get a Settlement and Determine Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident

When you are facing a situation where you suffered an injury in a car crash, the determination of fault is extremely important. If you can show that the other driver caused the accident and your injuries, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit. Consulting with a knowledgeable Washington personal injury lawyer can be crucial in such cases. Don’t expect the insurance company for the other driver to just accept blame after investigating the case. The insurer might try to blame you instead.

If the insurance company for the other driver is refusing to accept fault on behalf of its client, we can use our experience and expertise in car accident cases, as your trusted car accident lawyer, to try to help you get the settlement you deserve. Count on our team to thoroughly study the facts in your case to try to prove that the other driver caused your car accident. Once we are able to show fault, we then can focus on trying to win the best possible settlement or judgment for your injuries.

When the insurance company is questioning your request for an injury settlement after a car accident, the team at Montoya Hinckley is ready to help. Call us at 509-895-7373 for a free case review today.

Attorney Kevan Montoya

Attorney Kevan MontoyaFor over thirty years, Mr. Montoya has successfully represented clients in litigation involving multi-million dollar cases involving wrongful death, employment and business and commercial disputes. He regularly counsels businesses in Yakima and Central Washington on employment policies and helps businesses train employees regarding employment law compliance. He regularly speaks on employment issues. [ Attorney Bio ]


Attorney Tyler Hinckley

Attorney Tyler HinckleyTyler Hinckley represents individuals and businesses in state and federal court in litigation involving personal injury, property damage, employment claims, and business and commercial disputes. He represents individuals and businesses in a variety of employment cases, including wrongful termination, wage and hour, employment discrimination, and retaliation. Additionally, he represents individuals in residential construction defect and construction contract disputes, easement and boundary line disputes, and in cases involving damage to real property. Tyler also represents clients in administrative proceedings before state administrative agencies. [ Attorney Bio ]

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