Did you know that there are over 1,660 traffic fatalities in Georgia each year? If you’ve been in a car accident, you know how traumatic the entire experience can be. It’s even more challenging if the accident was caused by another driver’s negligence.
Determining car accident fault in a lawsuit can be tricky. It’s important to figure out who was responsible for the car accident, especially when you’re seeking compensation for your injuries.
In some situations, it’s obvious who the at-fault driver was. Other auto accidents can be more complex.
This guide will discuss everything you need to know about determining fault in a car accident claim. Hiring a lawyer is the best course of action if you’ve been in a car accident.
What Does “Fault” Mean in a Car Accident?
Fault means the party who is responsible for causing the auto accident. It’s easier to assign fault in some types of car accidents. For example, if you fail to brake and crash into the car in front of you, you’re typically at fault.
Car insurance companies need to determine who’s at fault in an accident. Figuring out who the responsible party is helps them figure out who needs to pay for the damages.
There are a few factors that affect whether or not both drivers are found to be responsible for an accident. They include:
- No witnesses who saw the car accident
- If it’s too challenging to determine who’s at fault
In these scenarios, car insurance companies might decide to split the damages between the two drivers.
51% or More Fault
There are some scenarios where your at-fault percentage matters. Some car accidents involve multiple at-fault drivers. If a driver is more than 51% at-fault, they might be obligated to pay for all of the damages.
In other instances, a driver might be obligated to only pay for the number of damages equivalent to their at-fault percentage. For example, if a driver is 40% at-fault, their insurance will cover 40% of the costs.
Sometimes a driver is 100% at-fault. Their insurance company will be responsible for covering all of the costs.
Is Georgia an At-Fault State?
Each state has separate rules and regulations governing car accidents. Georgia is considered to be an at-fault state. The responsible drivers will have to pay for any damages that occurred due to their negligent actions.
In Georgia, you can get compensated for injuries or damages if the other driver had the majority of the fault. Their insurance company can only pay to the limits of the driver’s policy coverage. This amount could be as low as $25,000.
There are accidents where a person’s damages might be higher than the policy coverage limits. The other driver might have another liability insurance policy that could provide additional compensation, but that’s not likely. A car accident lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of your case.
How Is Car Accident Fault Determined?
If you’ve been in a car accident, you need to notify the police and insurance company. Your insurance company adjuster will look into your car accident. They’ll evaluate the facts to determine who was at fault.
They’ll look at the following when investigating:
- Statements from witnesses and drivers
- Police report
- Car accident scene investigation
- The physical condition of the cars involved
- Weather conditions during the accident
They’ll use this data to reconstruct the car accident and figure out who was at fault. Keep in mind that the other insurance company will be doing the same things. They might be biased and look for opportunities to show that you were at fault instead.
What to Do if You’ve Been in a Car Accident
If you’ve been in an auto accident, it’s important not to point fingers. You don’t want to admit fault or accuse someone else of wrongdoing.
Once you’ve determined that everyone is safe, there are certain steps you need to take.
Don’t Leave the Scene
You might need to get your car out of heavy traffic or an intersection for everyone’s safety. However, don’t leave the scene, especially if you’re at fault.
Call 911 to address any injuries at the scene of the car accident. Having the police on the scene is especially important for the police report you’ll need later on.
If a car leaves the scene of the auto accident, don’t follow them. Wait for the police to show up and let them know that someone left.
Take photos and videos if it’s safe for you to do so. If you’re injured, see if there’s someone around that can do so on your behalf. Documenting damage from a car accident is important to determining fault.
Some of the information you’ll need includes:
- Road hazards
- Traffic conditions
- Time of the day
- License plate numbers
- Witness names and contact information
- The other driver’s name and insurance information
Don’t Say Anything
It’s reasonable to inquire about the health and safety of the other people involved in the car accident. Even if you know that the accident was your fault, don’t admit that it was.
Don’t lie to the police officers on the scene, either. Tell them the facts as you remember them without telling them that it was your fault.
Insurance companies and police officers will come to their conclusions about who was at fault in the car accident. They take into account reports and facts from everyone involved. Your insurance company might also want to get legal advice to help them accurately determine the at-fault percentage.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
Regardless of who’s at fault, it’s important to contact a personal injury lawyer. A car insurance claim can be a lengthy and complicated process. It’s not something you can typically tackle yourself, especially if you aren’t well-versed in the laws of Georgia.
Insurance companies don’t want to pay out damages, even if the other driver was mostly at fault. They’ll look for ways to blame you. An experienced car accident attorney in Georgia can help fight on your behalf.
Partner With a Reliable Georgia Car Accident Lawyer
Determining car accident fault can be a convoluted process even if it seems straightforward to you. You must have someone on your side providing you with expert legal advice. Contacting an auto accident lawyer should be one of your first steps after getting in an accident.
Our team of experienced attorneys is here to advocate on your behalf. Get in touch with us to schedule a consultation.
Cook & Tolley, LLP
304 E Washington St
Athens, GA 30601