Six Ways to Determine Who is at Fault in an Accident
Florida may be a “No Fault” state but that doesn’t mean that no one is to blame for your accident. In order to sue the other driver for compensation for your injuries, you will first have to be able to prove that they were to blame for the accident, that acting wrongfully or negligently led to them causing the accident, and that their actions resulted in your injuries. But how do you do this after the trauma of the car accident?
After an accident, you should first check for any injuries and call 9-1-1 to report the accident and request medical help to be sent if it is needed. Once everyone is taken care of, you can begin to determine how the accident happened in the first place and who caused it. We have compiled a list of six ways to help determine who was at fault for the accident so you can begin to prepare for the next steps with the insurance company and your attorney.
- Citations issued by responding officer
Typically, the driver who receives a ticket for speeding, running a red light or stop sign, or other moving violation will be seen as the individual at fault for the accident. Drivers are expected to drive according to all laws and breaking those laws while driving can be considered as negligence or even intentionally wrongful acts.
- Check for other driving infractions when a citation is not issued
If an officer does not respond or is unable or is does not issue a citation then you will have to review the accident scene and events leading up to the accident to try and determine if any infractions were made. This is common on private property, like a parking lot, to not have a citation issued. Infractions such as not stopping or a “rolling stop” could have resulted in the accident. If this is the case, make a note of it.
- Collect evidence of the scene
Take pictures of the surrounding area and be sure to capture and skid marks, roadway obstructions, street signs, etc. Also take pictures of the damage to your vehicle, the vehicle of the other car(s) involved, and of any injuries of those involved. This is an important step to proving who is at fault. Pictures will help to reconstruct the scene and show what happened.
- Check the angle of the collision
The angle of the collision and what side of the vehicle the damage is on can tell a lot about what happened and can even illuminate the at fault party. Typically, drivers who were turning left across traffic or who hit a driver from behind are considered to be at fault. However, keep in mind that these types of accidents aren’t always these driver’s fault. If a driver is making a left hand turn at a green light and the other driver runs a red light, then the driver running the red light is at fault.
- Record comments made by the other driver
The other driver may make unintentional comments admitting to fault for the accident either to you, to the responding officer, or on the phone with someone such as a loved one or their insurance company. Pay attention to key phrases such as “I didn’t see you”, “I just took my eyes off the road for a second”, or “I’m sorry for hitting you”.
- Interview witnesses to the accident
Witnesses of the accident are a great way to gather information on what led to the accident and which party appeared to be at fault. Ask for the witness’s name and contact information and see if they will provide a written statement of their account of the incident and who they believe is the responsible party.