Who Determines Who is Responsible for a Traffic Accident?
In general, the police have the authority to determine who is responsible for a traffic accident, but insurance agencies often play a crucial role in this process as well. Another way to determine who is at-fault is if one party admits to being responsible.
A traffic accident can turn your world upside-down in a heartbeat and can cause injuries that range from mild to serious to fatal. Adding insult to injury is when you are found to be at-fault for the accident, as that may cost you significantly when it comes to increased insurance premiums in the future.
A law firm with a results-oriented track record
Therefore, having an experienced and qualified car accident lawyer in your corner is often vital. In Los Angeles, one client of Ellis Injury Law suffered life-threatening injuries in a car accident when another driver made an unsafe lane change and hit the back half of our client’s car. The impact caused our client’s car to spin left, crash into a concrete divider, spin into another lane sideways, and then hit another vehicle. The driver that hit our client fled the scene of the accident, but our Los Angeles car accident lawyers were still able to recover $2.9 Million on behalf of our client.
How do the police determine fault?
The police are usually the first additional party to arrive at the scene of the accident, and Ellis Injury Law encourages Southern Californians to call the police and file a police report following an accident. When the police arrive at the accident scene, they will typically take statements from both drivers, speak with other witnesses, and assess the damage to the vehicles involved.
This information will all become part of the accident report, along with each driver’s name, where the accident occurred, insurance information of each driver, and the officer’s own observations of what happened. By determining the location of each vehicle at the time of the accident and assessing the damage to them, the officer may be able to confidently decide which party is at fault. For example, if one vehicle clearly rear-ended another based on the damage and location of each vehicle, it is easy to determine that the second car is at-fault. However, many accidents are not nearly as simple based on the damage and location of each vehicle, making it much more complicated for the police to decide.
What role do the insurance companies play?
If both parties deny responsibility for the accident, insurance agencies may weigh the evidence in order to make a determination. Therefore, we encourage Southern Californians to do everything possible to document what happened in the accident: take pictures of the surrounding area and each vehicle, talk to as many witnesses as possible and record what they tell you, gather any evidence that you see, and track down the contact information of every witness to the accident. You can submit all of this information to the insurance company in order to bolster your position that you were not at fault for the crash.
Do not make this mistake
Another way to determine who is liable for the accident is if a party admits it. While it is natural to say “I’m sorry” to another driver if you have been in an accident even if you did nothing wrong, making this statement may be used against you later as an admission of guilt. With that in mind, we strongly advise you to never admit to being at fault at the scene of the crash, never apologize, and minimize any communication with the other driver only to gather their personal and insurance information, and ask if they are okay or if they need anything.
How can an attorney help you?
These cases are often complicated, and making the wrong move can render your effort to achieve justice futile. Qualified car accident attorneys will be able to steer you in the right direction at each step of the process in order to maximize your financial recovery. Rather than trying to communicate with the other driver or their insurance company on your own, hand your case over to a law firm that you can trust and let them do the work for you.
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You can call Ellis Injury Law at any time day or night for your free lawsuit review, and you can take comfort in knowing that you will never be charged anything unless you win. If you or a loved one has been injured in a traffic accident, call us today for your free lawsuit review.