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How Is Fault Determined in a Car Accident?

How Is Fault Determined?

Did you know that there are more than 6 million car accidents every year in the United States alone?

If you're in a wreck, it's natural to try to put the blame on anyone other than yourself. However, even if you think you can prove that you weren't at fault for an accident, it's not always that simple.

So, how is fault determined in a car accident?

Keep reading to learn about the different types of car crashes and how to prove fault in an accident.

Types of Car Accidents

When you get into a car accident, it's classified as either an at-fault accident or a no-fault accident. The difference depends on state regulations where the crash takes place.

At-Fault Accidents

If you live in a state without personal injury protection (PIP) coverage laws, your car crash is an at-fault accident.

Once it's determined which party is at fault, they'll be responsible for covering the property damage and injury claims through their insurance.

No-Fault Accidents

A no-fault accident, on the other hand, happens in states with no-fault insurance laws. Many of these states require drivers to have PIP coverage, which helps pay for medical bills regardless of which driver is at fault.

However, in a no-fault accident, property damage is covered on an at-fault basis. So, if you damage another driver's car, your insurance will have to help pay for repairs.

How Is Fault Determined In a Car Accident?

There are a few major players involved when determining fault in a car accident. The decision is made primarily by the police, insurance companies, and the court.


In the immediate aftermath of a car accident, a police officer will gather details to write up a police report.

In talking to the drivers and any witnesses at the scene, the officer may use their judgment to make a statement about which driver was at fault, but it's not a requirement of the police report.

If the officer issues a citation related to the accident, this can be evidence in an auto accident lawsuit when trying to prove fault.

Insurance Company

Once you file a car accident claim with your insurance provider, you're assigned an adjuster to look into the details of the accident. The other driver's insurance company will do the same.

After looking through the police report and talking to witnesses, the insurance adjusters will determine who was at fault. Sometimes, the fault is split between each driver as a percentage.


Depending on the details of your accident, the next steps may involve hiring an attorney to take your case to court. If you decide to go this route, a court will sift through all the evidence of the accident from the police and insurance reports.

Then, the court will decide which driver was negligent and how much compensation is owed.

Know Your Rights

Now that you know how to answer the question, "how is fault determined in a car accident?" you'll be more prepared the next time you find yourself in a crash.

It's a good idea to check your state regulations, so you'll know your rights and whether your crash is an at-fault or no-fault accident.

Looking for more valuable information like this? Read through our other articles before you go.

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