After a serious car accident, determining who is at fault is crucial for a number of reasons. The at fault party is responsible for the injured party’s damages. So if you sustained injuries in an accident, proving liability means proving that the other driver is financially liable for your medical bills, lost wages, and other losses.

But determining fault can be complicated and depends on the actions of all parties as well as establishing whether negligence was involved. To learn more about how to determine fault in a car accident, contact Fielding Law Group today.

How to Determine Fault in a Car Accident, Seattle WA

What Elements Do You Need to Prove Negligence?

Negligence is a legal concept used to determine fault in car accident and other personal injury cases. Determining negligence is based on three factors:

1. Duty

All drivers generally have a legal duty to drive carefully and follow traffic laws (for example, to stop at a stop sign). In order to establish liability, you must first determine if there was a duty.

2. Breach of Duty

Negligence occurs when someone fails to meet the duty of care that they were expected to uphold. When a driver runs a stop sign, they breach the duty to stop. When a driver speed or drives recklessly, they fail to uphold the duty to drive carefully.

3. Injuries Occurred as a Result

If the other driver is negligent and breaches a duty of care, their negligence may cause injuries. They may then be legally liable for compensating that person for their injuries.

How to Determine Fault in a Car Accident When Both Parties Are at Fault

What if more than one person is at fault? What if the person injured is also partially at fault? In that case, the court evaluates liability based on the comparative fault rule.

Comparative fault determines the amount of fault that should be allotted to each party. Each party is responsible for the amount of damage that they are at fault. For example, if a defendant is 90% at fault and the plaintiff is 10% at fault, then any final award for the plaintiff would be reduced by 10%. Thus, an award for $100,000 would be reduced by $10,000. The plaintiff would only recover $90,000.

Both parties may be at fault in a situation where they both violated a duty to drive carefully and abide by the laws. If Driver A fails to yield to Driver B, but Driver B was going 40 mph in a 30 mph zone, then both drivers would be partially at fault. A court or jury would be tasked with determining what percentage each party was at fault.

Collecting Evidence After a Car Accident

It can be difficult to prove that the other driver was negligent. And, at the same time, they will likely be trying to prove that you were at fault. It’s best to take the following actions after a car accident to improve your chances of proving fault:

  • Take pictures and videos of the scene. Use your cell phone to get pictures and videos of the environment around your car accident. Include any vehicles involved as well as any damage you see. Make sure you include signs and damage to the road.
  • Talk to witnesses. If you’re able to walk around the car accident scene, get the names and contact information of all witnesses. Ask them what they saw and record it on your phone.
  • Call the police. The police can file an accident report and record what happened. This report will be valuable evidence for your car accident claim.
  • Check the scene for cameras. Many roads and intersections have red light cameras. Other locations are visible on cameras at nearby businesses.

Call Us to Learn More About How to Determine Fault in a Car Accident

A car accident can be disorienting, and the question of how to determine fault is a difficult one to tackle without the help of an accident attorney. For more information, speak to an injury lawyer at Fielding Law Group today.