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How Do You Determine Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident?

How Do You Determine Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident?

If you or someone you love has been involved in a car accident, you are not alone. In fact, in Texas in 2020 over 200,000 people were injured in auto accidents. Many of these situations resulted in insurance and/or legal claims. In these cases, determining fault was critical.

If you have been in a car accident in the past, you know that determining who was at fault is not always easy to do. While in some circumstances, the answer to the question “who was at fault” is obvious; in many other instances, things are not so clear.

In fact, quite often fault is heavily disputed, especially because insurance company payouts and lawsuit decisions rely on this information.

If you or a loved one has recently been in an automobile accident, understanding how fault is determined is invaluable. There are a number of factors to consider. Our experienced car accident lawyer will review your case, prove fault, and help you obtain the settlement you deserve. Contact the attorneys at Evans/Reilley today at (512) 732-2727 to schedule a consultation.

Understanding the Law

Why Determining Fault Is Important

Automobile accidents can be expensive, and paying for the resulting damages can impact your family and its future. The individual or organization that was at fault may be responsible for assuming these costs.

When referring to car accidents, Texas is an “at-fault” insurance state. Basically, this means that if you are injured in a collision and file a claim, you can recover damages only if you can prove the other driver (or other issues) caused the incident.

Additionally, Texas law takes into account comparative fault. The legal term used in the statute is proportionate responsibility. This means that responsibility for the damages aligns with the responsibility assigned by the law for the fault of the accident. Not all accidents are the singular fault of an individual or organization. For example, if a driver makes an illegal turn and hits another car, clearly, he is responsible. But if the driver of the car that was hit was speeding, thus increasing the amount of damage, the fault may be shared. Damages in cases like this will be assigned based on the percentage of fault the injured person is determined to hold. To simplify, assume the driver making the illegal turn was found to be 90% responsible, and the speeding victim 10%. The victim would only be able to recover 90 percent of any award for his injury claim.

However, in order to be able to collect at all, you must be less than 51% at fault.

You must prove fault and that the damages you are claiming were the result of the accident. Our experienced Austin car accident lawyer can help do both.

Recoverable Damages

In Texas, both economic and noneconomic costs may be recovered. Economic damages are easy to understand: they are the monetary losses one experiences. These include:

  • Medical Costs: Including but not limited to emergency transport, hospitalization, physician visits, medication, rehabilitation, and short- and long-term care. It is important to keep accurate records and retain receipts so you can prove your case.
  • Property Damage: These are comprised of the costs to repair or replace your vehicle as well as items that may have been damaged during the crash, like laptop computers or sporting goods.
  • Lost Wages: Often recovery from auto accidents result in missed time at work. When a serious injury occurs, time away from your job may be considerable. You can recover these lost wages. Just make sure you document your time and can show proof of salary/wages (tax forms, pay stubs, etc.).
  • Decreased Earning Capacity: If your injuries are serious, you may be unable to work in the same capacity as before the accident. You may be able to recover what you would have earned had the accident not occurred.

While they are more difficult to quantify, you may also be entitled to non-economic damages. These can include physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, anxiety, and loss of companionship and consortium. Finally, where cases of gross negligence exist (like drunk driving), victims may be entitled to punitive damages, aptly named because they are designed to punish the negligent person or organization.

Accident victims must file lawsuits in accordance with the statute of limitations in the state of Texas. In general, this deadline is two years from the date of the incident, although there are some exceptions. Thus, it is important not to waste time; speak with an attorney immediately. This professional can help identify which of your costs you may be entitled to recover and ensure that you meet all filing deadlines.

How Do You Know Who Is At Fault in a Car Accident?

Clearly, determining fault is important. Depending upon the circumstances, it can be incredibly difficult, but there are a number of things that your car accident attorney can do to help determine and ultimately prove fault.

Review Police Reports

If you are in a vehicular accident, calling the police is critical. The written report they produce contains valuable information can that help determine fault.

Generally, a police report includes important details including the names and contact numbers of those involved, as well as identifying their insurance companies. It should also give the location of the accident and any specifics the officer was able to determine, including road and traffic conditions.

While police reports don’t always include a determination of fault, the information provided in them can be valuable when negotiating with an insurance company or litigating a claim.

Referring to Traffic Laws

Traffic laws are in place to protect everyone operating a motor vehicle, as well as pedestrians. Texas laws determine speed limits, identify appropriate ways to pass and change lanes, prohibit driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and even regulate cell phone usage.

Violation of one (or more) of Texas traffic laws, as well as the issuance of citations, can help determine the party who may be responsible.

Types of Accidents

Quite often, the type of accident can indicate fault. For example, if you were hit by a car from behind, it is likely the accident was caused by the driver of the car who hit you. It is their responsibility to follow at a safe distance, one that provides adequate space for stopping. Accidents that occur when a car making a left-hand turn is involved are often the fault of the driver who was turning. However, there are exceptions to these and other types of accidents as well. In cases like this, the type of damage and information from the crash can be used by experts to determine who was at fault.

Getting the Settlement You Deserve

How Do Insurance Companies Determine Who’s At Fault?

Compensation from insurance companies for losses in vehicular accidents relies on the answer to this often-asked question.

Because Texas is a fault state, after an accident, insurance companies will conduct their own investigation to determine fault. The insurer of the individual, organization, or entity found to be at fault would be the one responsible for damages compensation.

Insurance companies rely on the evidence in car crashes to determine fault. In addition to the police report, they will review statements provided by witnesses, photos from the accident, and even cell phone records of those who were involved.

The insurance companies involved may encourage you to work directly with them to resolve your issue. Be advised: insurance companies are businesses, and their representatives are charged with protecting their bottom line. Thus, their goal is to get to you accept the least amount of money possible. They are not looking out for your best interests. Damages in auto accidents can be considerable. It is likely there are some you have not accounted for. It is wise to engage the services of a car accident attorney; this professional will look out for your best interests.

Contact Evans/Reilley Today

Our Car Accident Attorneys Are Ready to Help You

Automobile accidents are traumatizing. Simply recovering from the experience and your injuries can require all of your efforts. Managing the insurance and legal process is overwhelming; it is a lot of work and can be difficult to know what to do and when to do it. The car accident attorneys at Evans/Reilley have a reputation for providing high-quality, responsive service. We understand the stress you are under and are prepared to manage your case from beginning to end.

When you work with us, you can rest assured that we will perform a complete investigation, negotiate aggressively with the insurance company, and represent you in court should litigation become necessary. Our singular goal is to get you the settlement you need and deserve, one that compensates for all of your losses.

If you or someone you love is the victim of an accident, contact the car accident attorneys at Evans/Reilley at (512) 732-2727 today.

Attorney Chip Evans

Austin Attorney Chip EvansChip Evans is a partner at Evans & Herlihy. Chip brings to the firm more than 20 years of experience as a trial lawyer representing Plaintiffs. It is the desire to help individuals, not corporations, that attracts Chip to this side of the docket. [ Attorney Bio ]