Do I have to Pay for That?: Your Guide to Determining Fault After An Auto Accident
If you have the misfortune of being in an auto accident with another driver or multiple drivers, you may be wondering how to determine who is at fault. While some accidents leave clear evidence of who caused them, others can be a bit more ambiguous. Of course, it's also important to remember that law enforcement or traffic authorities should be called to any and all accidents, and these entities typically determine who is legally at fault. Then again, it's also important to remember that law enforcement officials can make mistakes, and some accidents will require more investigation time than others. To assist you in determining fault in an auto accident, here are a few steps to take:
1.) Know Your Laws - Each state has its own traffic laws, so it's important to know them as a driver. Additionally, some cities and towns may have their own specific laws which govern traffic and traffic accidents. For example, in the state of South Carolina, any driver who rear-ends another driver is automatically at fault, no matter what the circumstances of the accident were. Essentially, this law states that drivers are to follow at a safe distance, so even if the driver in front slams on their brakes, the driver in the back should have enough time to stop.
2.) Write It Out - In the heat of the moment, it can be difficult to ascertain who was at fault in an accident. Even minor traffic accidents can create panic and confusion, and while you're on the scene, you may not be thinking straight. This is another reason why it's good to have law enforcement show up, as they can act as a third party. Once you've been able to calm down and gather your thoughts, try to write down your recollection of the accident. You may also want to draw out a diagram to aid in your memory. Doing this shortly after your accident will allow you to still present a fresh perspective on the events which led to your accident, and this can help you to determine who was at fault.
3.) Step Outside Yourself - In an accident, it can be easy to only see things from your own point of view. While you could have sworn you had the right of way, it may be that you didn't. If another driver or witness tells you that you were in the wrong, you shouldn't automatically accept the blame, but you should try to think outside of yourself and at least consider the testimony of others.
4.) Speak with an Attorney - If you're unsure of who was at fault in your accident, or if you're being blamed for the accident, you may want to speak with an attorney. An auto accident attorney will have specific knowledge of laws in your state, and they will be able to examine and investigate your accident from multiple angles. If it's determined by law enforcement that you were to blame, but you know you weren't, an auto accident attorney can help you to prove that in court. Conversely, if you were injured in an accident which wasn't your fault, an auto accident attorney can assist you in seeking compensation for your injuries and damage to your vehicle. It should be noted that not all auto accident attorneys are created equal, and some attorneys specialize in specific types of auto accidents.