Though it’s an unfortunate fact to admit, auto accidents are becoming increasingly common. With more drivers on the road than ever, all of whom are rushing from place to place, collisions have become more frequent. Even good drivers can find themselves in a car wreck, whether it’s because driving has become second nature to them and they were caught off guard, or for reasons beyond anyone’s control. Weather, traffic, and road conditions can all affect how drivers navigate the roads, and sometimes accidents happen.

In states like California, the fault must be determined in the event of an auto accident. This fault determines whose insurance is responsible for paying for all the damages involved in the crash. This process can be contentious and even causes issues on occasion. Most of the time, however, all parties cooperate. Even with proper cooperation and participation, fault can be hard to determine. Here are some ways to tell who is at fault for an automobile accident, and therefore whose insurance is to be billed.

They Apologize or Outright Admit Fault

In some cases, drivers know that the accident was due to something they did incorrectly and will admit their fault right away. Generally, these situations are straightforward, and the claims can proceed as normal. In some cases, the driver does not outright admit that they are at fault, but they may apologize to you when they leave the car. These situations aren’t as cut and dry, but their apology can certainly be used against them if they argue their fault later. It’s important to obtain the driver’s license number, vehicle ID number, insurance policy, name, phone number, and address with any accident. This information is necessary for filling a claim.

Police Reports

If you are unsure who is at fault, it’s best to call the authorities to act as the intermediary and inspect the scene. The officer on the scene will assess the damage and write a police report about what happened. This report may include information that your attorney can use in your favor, such as details that you may have overlooked or wording that implies fault to one of the parties. If any traffic laws were violated, the police would note that as well, and often traffic violations prove automatic fault. Police may ask to get statements from parties involved and witnesses at the scene, all of which will be information for your attorney and the insurance companies to refer to later.

Negligence

One of the most straightforward situations in which fault can be determined is in situations of negligence. Though this term is fairly vague, it encompasses a lot of situations that occur on the road. A person can be found at fault for negligence if they fit into any of the following categories:

  • DUI—the person driving was under the influence of drugs or alcohol when the accident occurred.
  • Defective auto parts—one party’s automobile has a defective part or parts, such as brakes, tires, lights, etc. If this defect is under recall or due to manufacturer error, the manufacturer could be held responsible. If the part is the owner’s responsibility to fix, such as a burnt-out tail light, loose bumper, or faulty windshield wiper, and they neglected to do so, the driver would be at fault for the accident.
  • Aggressive driving—one party was engaging in aggressive driving at the time of the accident. This behavior can include threatening other drivers, tailgating, swerving around cars, and excessive speed.
  • Distracted driving—In today’s day and age, distracted driving often means texting while operating a vehicle. However, distracted driving can also include eating, talking on the phone, rummaging through a bag, or giving attention to passengers or children in the backseat.
  • Dangerous roads—State and local governments are responsible for maintaining roads and ensuring they’re safe to use. If the accident was caused by significant damage to the road that has been ignored, the government might be at fault.

No matter the situation, it is best to consult a lawyer in an auto accident. Insurance companies frequently try to avoid paying for claims, making it difficult to navigate the aftermath of an accident alone. To ensure that you are not taken advantage of, hire an experienced Orange County attorney. The team at Easton & Easton’s law offices has years of experience with over $100 million paid out to our clients in the last five years alone. Contact us today for help with your auto accident claim, and leave the determination of fault to our professional team.