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How to Determine Fault After a Car Crash

| Jul 6, 2020 | Car Accidents

Every day in the United States, an average of 16,438 car crashes occur. That’s over 6 million car accidents per year! Car accidents often happen so quickly and without warning that it can be difficult to determine how the accident even occurred in the first place. Or, you may be certain that you didn’t cause the car crash but the person who did is trying to force the blame on you. Our Oneonta car accident lawyers at Scarzafava, Basdekis & Dadey, PLLC provide some tips for how to determine who caused a car crash when fault is in question.

Determining Fault After a Car Accident

You can only file a personal injury claim following a motor vehicle accident if the crash was caused by human error. In personal injury claims, fault doesn’t imply that someone caused a car accident intentionally—fault simply falls on the motorist who caused a crash through an act of negligence. Negligence can manifest as careless or reckless behavior.

For example, you can be held legally liable for a car accident if you crash into someone while driving over the speed limit during a rainstorm. Even though you are not at fault for the rain, this is considered reckless because you should reasonably know such weather conditions make the roads more slippery. However, if while driving lightning unexpectedly strikes the pavement near you causing you to become startled and crash into someone else, you may be able to use an “Act of God” as a defense to argue that you were not liable for the accident.

Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Claim

Following a car accident, you may know for sure that the crash was not your fault. However, the driver who caused the wreck might argue that you were at fault in order to protect themselves. Fortunately, there are many things you can do both immediately after the crash and later on to prove that you were not at fault.

After a car crash, immediately do the following:

  • Take pictures: Photograph as much of the accident scene as you can. Make sure to take pictures of all vehicles involved, any property damage, tire skid marks, inclement weather conditions, injuries, and anything else in the vicinity that might have contributed to or been affected by the accident. Try to do this right away, before any drivers move their vehicles or leave the scene.

  • Call the police: By calling the police to the scene, you can turn to law enforcement to investigate and collect evidence on your behalf. They will write a police report, which may include who caused the accident.

  • Collect information: Talk to any other motorists involved in the accident and write down their full names, contact information, license plate numbers, and insurance policy information. Speak to witnesses and collect their contact information as well.

If you forgot to do the above on time or couldn’t collect evidence because you suffered serious injuries, there are other ways to prove who is at fault.

For example, you can establish fault by looking at:

  • Eyewitnesses statements

  • Police reports

  • Surveillance camera footage

  • Traffic laws

If you’re unsure of where to turn, we recommend talking to a lawyer. An experienced car accident lawyer can advise you on your best course of action, and represent you if your claim is challenged.

Comparative Negligence

New York is a comparative negligence state. This means that more than one driver can share fault for a crash. Yet, even if you are found to have been partially at fault for a car accident, you can still recover compensation for the incident. The only caveat is that your compensation will be reduced based on what percentage you were determined to be at fault.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, we want to help. Contact the Oneonta car accident lawyers at Scarzafava, Basdekis & Dadey to schedule your free consultation today.