Who’s at Fault-Car Accident Scenarios

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Who’s at Fault-Car Accident Scenarios

Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.

Car accidents are an all too common occurrence and can happen every single day. They range from a simple fender bender in which serious injuries are often avoided to multiple car pile-ups in which significant injuries or even death can occur. The aftermath of a car accident is often a stressful time in which recovering from an injury and dealing with escalating medical bills can be daunting. In addition to this, the process of dealing with a car accident and determining who is at fault can be complicated.

For those who have been in a crash, it is advisable to speak with an experienced Chicago car accident lawyer to learn more about your rights.

Dealing with the Initial Aftermath of a Car Accident

If you are involved in a car accident, no matter how great or small, the time after can be quite confusing and disorienting. It is often difficult for those who are involved to immediately recall or understand what happened in the moments leading up to the accident as our natural adrenaline response often kicks in. And even after those involved have had time to organize their thoughts and think about the events, each individual perspective does not always tell the entire story. There are often gaps of time or information missing.

One of the first steps in the process of dealing with the accident will be to determine who is at fault. At the scene of an accident, it is usually not wise to discuss with the other driver, witnesses, or even the police your opinion as to the cause of an accident. When senses are heightened after an intense experience like a car accident, it can take a while to process and sort through what you remember actually happened. For this reason, it is a better idea to provide the other driver with only the information that state law requires and to provide the police with just the facts. Once law enforcement is able to spend time and gather evidence from the scene, it will become much more evident what caused the accident and who was at fault.

How is Fault Determined After a Car Accident?

It is common for state law to determine fault in a car accident. A driver who violates a traffic law is typically deemed as driving negligently. If an accident occur because a driver violated a traffic law, that driver will likely be at fault. For example, it is illegal to fail to stop at a red traffic light. A driver who drives through a red light and ends up colliding with another car that is in the intersection lawfully will be deemed at fault.

Likewise, it is against the law in Illinois and virtually all jurisdictions to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A driver who breaks such a law and injures another will be found to have negligently caused the accident and may be required to compensate the injured victim in a personal injury lawsuit.

Determining which driver is at fault for an accident is much easier if there is a witness available at the scene of the accident to speak with the police. A party who observed the accident, but was not involved, is often the most unbiased witness that the police and accident team can speak with. It can be difficult to piece together who and what caused the accident without a third-party witness, but there are ways that this can be done, if necessary.

Determining Fault Without a Firsthand Witness

In the case where a driver was under the influence or where witness evidence clearly points to a driver breaking a traffic law, such as failing to stop at a stop sign or a red light, it is typically fairly easy to pinpoint fault. However, where third-party witness testimony is conflicting or nonexistent, law enforcement will rely on other types of evidence to determine fault.

Some of the different examples of evidence that can help determine fault when there is no witness testimony available include:

  1. Skid marks on the road – These may help determine how fast a vehicle was traveling. Looking at the length of the skid marks can often show the speed at which the driver was traveling when they first hit the brakes.
  2. Red-light cameras – Traffic cameras can record valuable information as to what may have caused a collision.
  3. Vehicle damage – Looking at where the damage on the vehicle occurred can help to paint a picture of who was at fault for the accident. For example, if a car was hit from behind or on the side, it might be easier to prove that the other driver was at fault for the accident.

If the accident was serious, particularly if there was a fatality, accident scene reconstruction personnel will review evidence at the scene to determine what happened and pinpoint fault.

What to Do If You’re in a Car Accident

Those who are involved in car accidents should start by taking steps to preserve evidence at the scene. Of course, the first priority should be to seek medical attention if injured and contact the police. However, if possible, you should take photos of the scene, including both cars from multiple angles and any skid marks. Unless the circumstances or local law requires you to move your vehicle, leave your vehicle where it stopped after the accident so that law enforcement can examine the position of the vehicles.

Even if you do all that you can at the scene of an accident to understand what occurred and preserve evidence, ultimately, it is important to contact an attorney with experience handling cases involving car accidents. An experienced attorney will be able to make sure that all available accident scene evidence is properly gathered, preserved, and reviewed. If you are injured in the accident, such evidence may prove critical in determining the amount of compensation to which you may be entitled.

This guest post was contributed by Hardison & Cochran, a Raleigh, NC personal injury and car accident firm.   For more information visit lawyersnc.com 

Speak With a Knowledgeable Chicago Car Accident Lawyer

If you have been injured in a car accident and believe that the other party is at fault, you may be entitled to compensation. To learn more about your options, contact Malman Law today at 888-746-5015 to schedule a free initial consultation. You can also fill out our online contact form, and an attorney will reach out to you as soon as possible to set up a time to discuss your situation.


Steve Malman

Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.

Years of experience: +30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2024

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