Determining Fault in an Auto Accident

September 8, 2015

Regardless of how safe a driver you might be, it is widely known that automobile accidents can happen to anyone at any place. While auto accidents can come with a myriad of concerns, such as personal injuries or property damage, one of the biggest questions that arises is: who is at fault? Determining who is at fault can be a tricky process at times, due to the nature of the accident, but it is not impossible. Generally, there are three primary determinations that can help assist in the determination of fault, which include the police investigation, the insurance investigation, and the court investigation. While all three are important, ultimately, the court’s investigation will have the greatest impact on the determination of fault.

Police Reports

Typically, the police report will be the first account of the accident on record. During the investigation, officers will examine the scene of the accident, record statements from interested parties, and gather contact information from any available witnesses. In addition to the investigation, officers may also issue a traffic citation should the investigation reveal any traffic violations.

It is important to keep in mind that, while police reports do carry some authority, they are generally not admissible in court. In addition, it is possible for officers to misstate facts or to leave out key details. Because of this, it is vital for victims in automobile accidents to be aware of the surrounding circumstances, such as lighting conditions and weather, during an automobile accident.

Insurance Adjuster Investigation

Regardless of whether a police report has been made, the next determination that typically occurs is the insurance adjustor investigation. Once a party has filed a claim with her insurance provider, an adjuster will investigate any existing evidence, such as the current state of the car or available medical records. While an insurance investigator’s determination can prevent individuals from claiming benefits from their insurance company, it is important to note that, in court, an adjuster’s report will not, on its own, be sufficient to prove fault.

Court Determination

Finally, there comes the issue of the court determination. Generally, at this point, the parties will have collected enough information to provide a clearer picture to the court regarding the auto accident. Because South Carolina is a tort liability state, the party that is not at fault can proceed to bring an action against the at fault party. This means that typically, the fault determination will be made outside of court, but fault determinations can continue to affect the outcome of the case, since South Carolina also follows a comparative negligence standard of recovery. This means that a party’s recovery will be limited by his percentage of fault, and can severely reduce awards even if the other party was initially found to be at fault.

Contact an Attorney

While a party may not encounter all three types of investigation after an accident, a party would need to encounter at least one in order to get a chance at recovery. Automobile accidents can provide a lot of stress and confusion for people, and the determination of fault can prove to be even more stressful of an experience. If you or someone you love has been involved in an automobile accident in South Carolina, then you need the assistance of a skilled lawyer. Contact the David Aylor Law Offices for a free case evaluation.

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