Car Accident Liability: How to Determine Fault?

Fault and liability are important factors in an accident. It is the obligation of the responsible party to make amends, usually by paying for damages caused. The person at fault is the one who is typically liable for any resulting injuries or property damage due to their negligence and recklessness.

Types of Fault

Fault is a key part in your ability to collect damages. There are some states that have no-fault rules, which means that the insurance company pays for their clients’ damages, regardless of who caused the accident. However, most of the states take into account the amount of fault shared by each person and limit the amount of damages they can collect depending on how much each person contributed to the accident.

The states take one of the three approaches listed below:

Pure Contributory Negligence: If the accident was caused by your actions, you cannot collect damages, even if the other party was 99% responsible.

Pure Comparative Fault: You are always entitled to receive compensation for damages, although it may be reduced by a percentage equal to your share of the fault.

Proportional Comparative Fault: The person largely at fault is not entitled to any compensation, while the other person with less responsibility may receive damages based on share of fault. There are two versions in this type of fault:

  • 50% Proportional Comparative Fault: Eligibility for compensation ends at 50% fault, so if the parties are equally to blame, neither can collect damages.
  • 51% Proportional Comparative Fault: The eligibility cut off is 51% fault. If both parties share blame equally, both are eligible for damages.

How is Fault Determined

Determining fault in any car accident case can be complicated. Insurers and lawyers will look for evidence in police reports to see if the officer had mentioned negligence or issued citations. Citations may not decide fault but it can lend support to other evidence. Statements by reliable witnesses can help sort out the sequence of events leading to the crash, and finding the specific rules in the state vehicle code that a driver may have violated can also help assign fault. The other and final way to determine fault is usually somewhat subjective. There are two types of accidents where fault is almost always clear:

Rear-end Crashes: If you hit the car in front of you, you are at fault because you did not follow the safe driving rule that requires leaving enough space between the cars to be able to stop safely. However, you may share the blame if, for example, the car you hit did not have working brake lights or if you were pushed into it.

Left Turn Crashes: If you are hit making a left turn, it is because you tried to make an unsafe turn, thereby making the accident your fault. You can blame the other party only if the other person was speeding or ran a red light.

Contact Car Accident Attorney at 845-709-8005 and 800-940-1799

If you have been injured in a car accident and need legal representation, contact the car accident attorney at Rockland Injury Lawyers. You can call us at 845-709-8005 and 800-940-1799 or email us at / We are proudly serving clients in Rockland County and located in Spring Valley, NY.

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