Car accidents are an inevitable part of life. When one vehicle hits another, how do you determine who is at fault? There are several different places liability can be determined, such as by the auto insurance companies, in court by a jury, or in a police report. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 6.7 million mishaps in 2018, with around 2.7 million people injured and more than 36,000 deaths. Car accidents can be complicated legal processes involving insurance companies with tight purse strings, feuding drivers, and debates over what actually transpired. This article discusses some ways fault is determined, and how to navigate them. If you or somebody you love was the victim of a car accident, you may want to consult with an experienced car accident attorney. Call Mantia Law Firm in Orlando to schedule a free initial consultation today.
Ways Fault Is Determined In A Car Accident
- The Drivers Decide: When still on the scene of the accident, the drivers involved could decide who is technically at fault. However, oftentimes in the heat of the moment, drivers get into a finger-pointing mode. In such stressful situations, either driver could end up admitting to being at-fault, which is not a good idea as any kind of admission could hurt you later on. The best thing you can do when you get into a car accident is to take pictures of the scene before anything is moved, and to take down the names and phone numbers of everybody involved, including witnesses. Ask to see the license and insurance ID card of the other driver, ordrivers involved. Write down the time of day, weather conditions, and location of the accident, along with vehicle information of all cars involved.
- The Police Decides: The first job of an officer arriving on the scene of an accident is to figure out if anybody is hurt, and to call for medical help if they are. Their next step will be to assess any damage to vehicles involved and where they are situated, which often determines who is at fault. The officer will ask many of the same questions that would be asked in court in order to investigate any special circumstances that could have caused the accident, such as speeding, cell phone use, or driving under the influence (DUI). Remember that while a police report is not final, it is a public document that auto insurance companies will definitely read. It is also something you should read, when it becomes available. If there wasn’t a police officer at the scene, then you should head to the nearest police station to file an incident report, or file it online.
- The Insurance Companies Duke It Out: Florida is a “no fault” state, which means that when a motorist gets into an accident, their Personal Injury Protection coverage is used to pay for losses sustained in an accident. No-fault laws are supposed to make seeking medical treatment after an auto accident easier, but PIP insurance in Florida only pays up to $10,000, which means you may want to file a lawsuit against the other driver if your damages sustained exceeds your PIP coverage.
- Arbitration: When insurers can’t figure it out among themselves, they go to arbitration, which decides the extent of the damage and who pays.
- It’s Up To A Jury: If you do go to court, the case is in the hands of a jury. However, only 1% to 2% of claims involve lawsuits, making it a last resort. Typically this only happens when the injuries or damage incurred are extremely expensive or contentious.
Contact Us Today
If you or somebody you love was involved in a car accident, you may seek legal counsel to determine your next steps. Call Mantia Law Firm in Orlando for a free initial consultation today.