When you’re involved in an accident, you want to know who’s to blame right away. It may not be clear, but the answer is very important. Here are seven easy steps for knowing who’s to blame for a car accident:
1. Investigate traffic violations or criminal offenses
If the police investigate the crash, they might issue a traffic citation. They might also charge someone with a crime. Police officers have training in how to conduct an accident investigation. They might believe that someone broke a law like drunk driving or made a driving error like failing to stop at a stop sign. The opinion of the investigating officer may go a long way to shed light on who’s to blame for the accident.
2. But remember a traffic citation doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story
Even if the police issue a citation or request criminal charges, remember that’s not necessarily the end of the story when it comes to determining fault. The police may make errors in their work. In addition, the police investigate the case for different things than you might look for when you’re investigating the case to determine civil fault. A traffic citation can be strong evidence, but it’s not necessarily the only thing that matters.
3. Witness statements
There may be witnesses to the accident. What they saw and heard can be critical. The number of witnesses isn’t the most important thing. Instead, their observations and credibility can be helpful to determine fault.
4. The location of accident damage
The location of the damage on vehicles can tell the story of how an accident occurred. Damage can show the speed of the vehicles at impact. It may also show if either driver tried to take evasive action
5. Admissions of either party
What the drivers say can be evidence. If you say sorry, the other side can argue that you said sorry because you knew that you did something wrong. If a driver talks about how the accident occurred or if they apologize, it can be evidence of who’s to blame for the accident
6. Apply the evidence to the rules of negligence
Liability in a car accident depends on negligence. Drivers must use reasonable care and caution when they drive. If they aren’t careful enough and an accident occurs, they’re liable for negligence. Compare all of the evidence against how a reasonable person should drive. If a person isn’t careful enough, they’re to blame for the accident.
7. Consider comparative negligence
More than one person can be to blame for an accident. It’s possible that both drivers share some liability for the crash. When you’re determining fault for the crash, remember to consider that more than one person may be at fault. A car accident lawyer can help you determine how comparative negligence might matter in your case.
How to tell who’s to blame for a car accident
Determining fault for a car accident is about gathering the evidence and evaluating the law. South Carolina law says that a person is to blame for a car accident if they’re not careful like a reasonable person should be in an accident. Witness statements, vehicle damage and driver admissions can all help you determine who’s to blame.