How is Fault Determined in a Car Accident?

PUBLISHED ON: February 8, 2024    LAST MODIFIED ON: March 8, 2024

Figuring out who is at fault in a car accident is crucial when filing an insurance claim after a collision. The process of determining fault varies by state and the specifics of each accident. However, some universal factors and procedures apply to make this determination as fair and accurate as possible.

How is Fault Determined in a Car Accident

Understanding “At Fault”

Being at fault in a car accident means your actions caused the collision. You may have violated a traffic law or neglected to act correctly. This distinction is important because the at-fault party’s insurance typically covers costs like medical bills, car repairs, and lost income.

Of course, this only applies in at-fault states like Texas, which require the responsible party to compensate the other party for damages. This differs from no-fault states, where each party files a claim with their own insurance regardless of who caused the accident.

Comparative and Contributory Fault

It’s fairly common for multiple parties to share responsibility for an accident. That’s where comparative and contributory fault come into play. Comparative fault divides the blame and the financial responsibility among the parties based on their percentage of fault. In contrast, contributory fault prevents a party from receiving any compensation if they contributed to the accident in any way.

Texas operates under a “modified comparative negligence” system. Under this system, each party involved is assigned a percentage of fault based on their contribution to the accident. Compensation is then determined accordingly. For example, if you are found to be 51% or more at fault, you won’t be able to collect compensation from the other parties involved.

Who is at Fault in a Car Accident?

Determining fault in a car accident involves thoroughly reviewing several factors, including:

  • Traffic law violations: If you disobey traffic laws by speeding, running a red light, or driving under the influence, the blame may fall on you.
  • Police reports and evidence: Police reports are crucial documents that insurance companies use to assess fault. They contain details about the accident, including the positioning of vehicles, weather conditions, and eyewitness accounts. Police officers may also note their opinion on who was at fault.
  • Negligent driver behaviors: Insurance adjusters also look at driver behaviors, such as distracted driving, failing to yield, or improper turns. Being negligent is the same as being at fault.
  • Rear-end collisions: In rear-end collision cases, the driver who hits the other vehicle from behind is typically at fault. However, fault is shared if multiple parties contributed to the accident.

The Role of Legal Assistance

Given the complex nature of determining fault, consulting a car accident attorney may be invaluable. A legal professional can help you gather evidence and protect your interests if you’re found to be at fault. Nava Law Group understands the challenges of being involved in an at-fault car accident. We know that accidents happen, and we’ll help you fight for a lower proportion of responsibility whenever possible. Our highly qualified and well-regarded attorneys have a solid track record of meeting our clients’ needs and goals. So don’t face the aftermath of an at-fault accident alone—contact us at 713.661.9900 for a free consultation at one of our law offices in Houston, Bellaire, Edinburg, or Austin, TX.

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