If you have been in a motor vehicle accident, you know that the aftermath can be tumultuous. Your injuries have to be diagnosed, treated and allowed to heal. Your vehicle may have been damaged. Your confidence behind the wheel may have plummeted. There can be emotional or psychological impacts.
And there is the sometimes complex matter of deciding who was at fault for the wreck in the first place — because it isn’t always clear. There can be multiple circumstances like the following that have to be weighed:
- Was either driver speeding?
- Was there heavy fog or blinding solar glare?
- Were the road conditions icy or wet?
- Did the accident take place at night?
All of these factors may play into the final results.
What mechanisms are used to determine responsibility for a crash?
These are some possible scenarios:
- Sometimes, the at-fault driver will step up and admit their responsibility right away. That can happen more often than you might think. If the driver was the only one cited by the police over a clear traffic mistake, that’s even more likely.
- The police may decide who is at fault. If an accident is complicated or involves multiple vehicles, it may take some investigation to decide where liability falls or how it is to be divided. (Just bear in mind that insurance companies do not necessarily have to agree with the police results.)
- The insurance companies may fight it out. If one party’s insurance is slow to accept responsibility, the other will usually pay the victim’s bills and subrogate the claim to the other. If they can’t agree, they may eventually move to arbitration over the bills.
- A jury may need to get involved. If you file a claim for compensation and the other party (or their insurance) denies fault, you may eventually have to sue. If you’re unable to settle outside of court, you may have to litigate.
Protect your best interests and rights
When a third party makes the decision as to who was at fault, you may believe that their conclusion was unfair, biased or was based on incomplete or inaccurate information. That’s when you might want to seek the expertise of a professional who knows the ropes.