Car accidents can be an incredibly stressful experience for everyone involved. The aftermath of an accident can be even more overwhelming, especially when determining who is at fault. In some cases, fault is clear. However, many times determining fault in a car crash can be a complicated process.
From police reports to photographic evidence of vehicle damage, various information determines fault for the auto accident. Fault affects not only insurance claims but also potential legal actions that may follow; but there are often different perspectives to consider.
Understanding Fault in Texas
Texas uses a modified comparative negligence system to determine who is at fault in a car accident. This means that a percentage of fault is assigned to each driver involved in the accident, and damages are then allocated based on that percentage. Under Texas law, a driver may only recover damages if they are found to be less than 51% at fault.
What Is Negligence?
The legal definition of negligence is the failure to take care that a reasonable person would, resulting in harm or injury to another person. In the context of a car accident, if a driver fails to exercise reasonable care in operating their vehicle, resulting in harm to another driver, passenger, pedestrian, or property, they may be found to be negligent.
Negligence can take many forms, such as running a red light, turning into oncoming traffic, or exceeding the speed limit. Assigning fault in a car crash often comes down to establishing whether one or more drivers were negligent.
Comparative Negligence in Texas
Since Texas is a comparative negligence state, fault for a car accident can be divided among multiple people, based on the degree of negligence on each party’s part. Under Texas law, each party involved in the crash can be assigned a percentage of fault for the accident.
This percentage of fault will then be used to determine the amount of compensation each party will receive. For example, if one driver was 60% responsible for the accident while the other driver was 40% responsible, the person who was more negligent would bear a greater share of the liability.
Types of Evidence Used To Determine Fault
Determining fault in a car accident in Texas is a critical and often complex process, using evidence from a variety of sources. Understanding the types of evidence is crucial in determining car accident fault.
The Police Report
When police officers are called to the scene of an accident, they investigate and compile a police report. Police reports contain information about where the accident occurred, including the location, time, weather, and road conditions. Most police reports also include statements from the drivers, witnesses, and any other relevant parties.
Many police reports will also include the responding officer’s opinion about what took place, possibly including any violations of traffic law and which driver the police officer believes to be at fault. The police report can be a crucial piece of evidence in determining fault in a car accident case.
Eyewitness accounts of a crash are often crucial in determining fault. Witnesses can provide critical details such as the actions of the drivers before the accident and the location of the vehicles when the accident happened. If there are conflicting accounts, witness testimonies can help to clarify what happened.
Surveillance Footage or Photographic Evidence
Surveillance cameras often capture footage of accidents in intersections and roads. This footage can provide a clear picture of what happened before and during the accident, including the actions of the drivers involved.
Photos taken after the incident can also help provide a clearer picture of the accident scene, vehicle damage, and personal injuries.
Evidence can also be used to help determine fault in a vehicle accident. This includes damage to the vehicles involved, whether the airbags deployed, skid marks on the road, and debris from the accident. Examining this type of evidence can provide clues about the speed of the vehicles involved, the angle of the impact, and other factors that can help tell who is at fault.
Considerations Used to Determine Fault
When a crash takes place, there are multiple factors that must be considered. Here are some circumstances in which it may be clear that a negligent driver caused the collision.
Traffic Law Violations
Violating traffic laws can also contribute to fault in a car accident. If the at-fault driver ran a stop sign or red light, failed to yield to other vehicles, or drove in the wrong direction on a one-way street, they may be held legally responsible.
Left-Turn Accidents and Rear-End Collisions
Left-turn accidents are a common type of collision in which someone is considered at fault. If a driver turned left and collided with the other vehicle, they may be considered at fault unless the other driver was driving too fast or violated another law.
A rear-end accident can commonly result in property damage or injury. In most cases, the driver who rear-ended another vehicle is considered at fault, as they are expected to maintain a safe following distance and be able to stop in time to avoid a collision.
Barriers to Proving Fault
Proving fault in a car accident is not always easy, and there are often challenges that can complicate the investigation. Let’s examine some of the most common challenges that can arise when trying to determine fault in a car accident.
Conflicting Accounts of the Accident
One of the most significant challenges in determining fault is conflicting accounts of the accident. Drivers involved in the accident may have different recollections of what happened, making it difficult to establish a clear picture of what occurred. In some cases, eyewitnesses may have differing accounts of the accident, further complicating matters.
Accidents With Multiple Drivers
Accidents involving multiple drivers can be particularly challenging to investigate. It can be difficult to determine which driver’s fault the accident was when multiple vehicles are involved. In these cases, it is essential to gather as much evidence as possible to establish fault.
Role of Your Insurance Company
Insurance companies play a significant role in assigning fault in auto accidents. In some cases, an insurance adjuster may conduct an investigation and decide who is at fault based on the available evidence. This decision can have a significant impact on the settlement offered to the injured party.
Insurance Claim Process
When a car accident occurs, the parties involved will typically file an insurance claim with their respective insurance companies. The car insurance company will then investigate the claim and determine fault based on the available evidence. This investigation will involve examining the vehicle damage, accident report, witness statements, and physical evidence.
Challenges With Insurance Company Investigations
While insurance companies are supposed to act in good faith, there are instances where they may not be objective in their investigation of a claim and instead protect their own interests. Insurance adjusters, the individuals responsible for investigating insurance claims, will gather evidence and determine fault based on the available information.
Insurance adjusters are trained to look for evidence that can help their company avoid paying out large settlements. The claims adjuster may try to shift the blame onto the other driver or minimize the severity of injuries sustained in the accident. In some cases, insurance companies may even deny a claim altogether, leaving the injured party with no recourse.
Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer
If you were involved in a car accident and had your claim denied by your insurance company, the other driver didn’t have liability insurance, or if you are facing legal action, it may be in your best interest to hire a lawyer. Auto accident attorneys can help protect your legal rights and ensure that you receive fair compensation for any vehicle damage or injuries sustained.
Benefits of Hiring an Attorney
Qualified attorneys can provide a range of benefits, including access to their legal expertise, negotiating with the insurance company, and representing you in court. They may also conduct their own investigation, helping to uncover crucial evidence to support your case.
If you are struggling to prove fault in a vehicle accident case, or if you are facing legal action due to the accident, hiring a lawyer can be a wise choice. By providing legal expertise, thorough investigations, and skilled negotiations, a car accident lawyer with experience in accident cases can help you protect your legal rights and may ensure that you receive fair compensation for any damages or injuries sustained.
Working With a Lawyer
Once you have found an attorney that you trust, it’s important to work closely with them throughout the legal process. Be honest and transparent about the details of the vehicle accident, and provide any information or documentation requested by your attorney. Keep in mind that the legal process can take time, so it’s important to be patient and trust that your lawyer is working to protect your legal rights.
If you’ve suffered property damage or serious injury in a car accident, contacting personal injury lawyers may give you the green light and help ensure your interests are represented. It can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. Call Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC, at 936-251-5246 to schedule a consultation today.