Auto Accident: Determining Fault

personal injuryFinding out the party at fault in a car accident is not very difficult. However, it does require careful discover and preparation to have a solid case. One of the aims of accident investigations is to draw out the facts and to see if negligence may be involved. Usually, negligence on one person’s part points to fault.

If you do not reside in a no-fault state, the insurance company is responsible for figuring out the party at fault before damages can be paid under the auto policy. For an insurance company to do that, it needs to use the elements of negligence such as duty, breach, causation and damages. A party can be considered at fault if all these elements are present.

Here are the steps that an insurance company and the client will undergo in order to determine who is at fault:

  1. Review the driver duty for each driver. Any person who is behind the wheel should take the duties of the driver, regardless of age or the possession of a license. The law puts affirmative duties to each driver for the intention of determining who is at fault. Usually, the duties are: look out, avoid, and obey road rules.
  2. Find out whether the driver breached any of the three duties. This will entail interviewing the drivers to figure out whether they followed the road rules and were alert to their particular circumstances.
  3. Figure out whether the drivers attempted to avoid the accident. There should be a clear indication that the driver tried to avoid the accident. The other driver may have been at fault but that does not give the other driver the right to hit the car.
  4. Find out whether both drivers understand “the rules of the road”. Both drivers need to have followed the traffic rules in effect on the road where the accident took place. This is because traffic laws vary from place to place.
  5. Determine the duties that the driver could have breached. If the driver is alone, accident fault is also determined.
  6. Come up with a causal relationship between the damage done and the duty that was breached.
  7. Figure out the amount of damages. Damages may come in the form of property damage or bodily injury. The party not at fault should be able to show proof that the other car caused the injury being claimed. This looks easy but it is complicated by other factors.

As such, a personal injury lawyer in the Bronx should be able to establish who is at fault if that lawyer finds the injury claim in Washington Heights (or wherever a car accident claim is in New York) to be a bit obscure. A seasoned vehicle accident lawyer in Upper Manhattan should be able to weigh the duties breached before taking on the challenge of defending a client in court. If you need legal help, you can find more information in many NYC accident attorney blogs.

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