Three Keys to Determining Fault in an Automobile Accident

By | December 9, 2011

Determining who is at fault in your automobile accident can have a greater impact on your financial life than you might even be aware. Not only are there future insurance implications on the line, but the actual damages you’ll be liable for as a result of the accident will be directly impacted. That’s why it’s important to know how – and why – you might be at fault in a car accident. And if you haven’t been in one, these three keys might just help you to become a better driver.

Let’s take a look at these three key determinants of finding fault in an automobile accident:

1. Contributory Negligence

If you, as a result of negligent driving, could be seen to have contributed to the accident, then the accident is at least partly your fault. This is true even when your negligence was minimal, because it could be argued that had you been driving fully aware of your surroundings and responsibilities, the accident could have been avoided.

This is an especially important term in insurance circles because it could mean that even the slightest bit of negligence on your part would result in you partially being at fault for what went down.

For example, if you were driving at night without your lights on but were hit by a car violating traffic signals, you could still hold some fault because you weren’t driving in a completely competent way.

2. Being More than 50% at Fault

In many states, if you are considered to be more than half responsible for the entire car crash, then you won’t be able to file claims against the other person in the accident simply because you were at more fault. If you were to drive excessively and cause an accident – even though someone else could be partially at fault for not looking every way before the crash – then you could be considered to be more than 50% at fault in many states.

Again, you see the importance of driving safely and effectively at all times, because if someone should crash into you, your negligent driving could result in you being at fault.

3. Violating Traffic Laws

Let’s say that you were the one disobeying all of the traffic laws. You were speeding, not yielding at the proper time, etc. If the other driver was following all traffic laws (and therefore not driving negligently) then you might find that you are the one totally at fault for the accident. Why? Because if you had simply followed the traffic laws, the accident wouldn’t have happened. Any other argument – such as that the other driver should have adjusted to compensate for your speed – will not hold up in court and definitely won’t hold up in an insurance claim.

Knowing why you could be at fault for an accident that came upon you is important to understanding why it’s important to follow all traffic laws at all times. As they say, you never know when trouble is going to find you – it’s important to be prepared.

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