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Determining "Fault" In An Auto Accident

Author : Jim Brown


Being an auto accident attorney I hear the term "fault" thrown around a lot. But a lot of people aren't sure what fault really means.

When "fault" is being used to specifically refer to a car accident, it means the same thing it did when you were 8 years old and got in trouble at home—That broken sculpture was always someone's fault. But was it your brother's fault for throwing it across the room? Or your fault for breaking it? Car accidents are no different. When injuries are the result of a car accident, who's responsible? Who is at fault?

Different states have different ways of determining fault. Some states are referred to as "pure comparative fault" states. What this basically means is that all parties involved may have some level of responsibility when an accident takes place. What this means for an injured party is that you may be entitled to some damages compensation, even if you are partly to blame for the accident. The dispersion of compensation is determined by how much fault the court places on all of the involved parties. Who is at fault, and how much, will be determined by the judge or jury if you file a lawsuit.

If someone hits you while you're driving, it's their fault, right? Not quite, not automatically anyway. When trying to determine fault , the attorneys and the insurers will be looking at witness statements, police reports, the accident scene, and even medical records to try and put the blame on someone other than the party they're representing. Things like issued citations at the accident or other reports of negligence by the reporting officer can weigh heavily into an adjuster's determination of fault and who is to blame for the accident. Although citations are not the final determining factor for who is at fault, they can effectively support the adjuster's opinion.

Events that lead up to the crash, and who is at fault, may sometimes be affected by reliable witness statements. If the witnesses claim that one of the drivers violated a traffic law then that statement can be used to determine fault. Witnesses can also give what are called statements of opinion. This is when a witness says "well I think it was all the green car's fault", in this scenario you do NOT want to be the driver of the green car because a judge or jury might be inclined to agree.

You should note that I said RELIABLE witness. It can be tricky to find a reliable eyewitness for a car crash. This is not because people will be reluctant to talk about what they saw, but because seeing a crash can be disturbing. A person can have trouble accurately remembering all the details of a crash because of how disturbing it can be. Point of view can also make eyewitness testimony tricky. An example of this is that most people tend to underestimate the speed of larger vehicles and overestimate the speed of motorcycles.

If you've recently been involved in an accident and you don't know whether or not you're at fault you need to speak with an experienced auto accident attorney immediately.


Author's Resource Box

James Brown is a Missouri injury lawyer based in St. Louis. Before you are hurt in a car accident you need to know the most common mistakes car accident victims make when talking to the insurance adjuster that ruin their accident claims. You can request a free copy of his Missouri accident guide, I Survived! The Crash Victims Guide to Surviving the Aftermath at his website http://www.themissouriinjurylawyer.com


Article Source:
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Tags:   St Louis auto accident attorney, comparative fault, determining fault, free Missouri accident book

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Submitted : 2010-12-05    Word Count : 1    Times Viewed: 92