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How is Fault Determined in Car Accident Cases?

How is Fault Determined in Car Accident Cases?

In an at-fault state, such as California, each insurance company pays for the damages sustained according to the degree of fault of each party. With that said, it is necessary to prove that the other party is at fault for your accident.

If you are injured in an automotive accident, it is important to contact an experienced Los Angeles auto accident lawyer. Our attorneys can help you establish the other driver’s fault in the accident so you can recover the compensation you deserve for your injuries, medical bills, pain and suffering, and more.


Many personal injury cases involve the negligence of more than one party. For example, a car accident may involve one driver who was speeding and another who ran a red light or was distracted. California’s comparative negligence law accounts for these types of situations.

Under California’s comparative negligence law, the parties share responsibility if they contributed to the accident. In other words, if you are partially responsible for the accident, the amount of damages you can recover will be reduced by the percentage you were at fault. 

For example, if you suffer $100,000 in damages in a car accident, but the jury finds that you were 50 percent at fault for the accident (because you were speeding and the other driver ran a red light), your damages will be reduced to $50,000 ($100,000 – 50% = $50,000 for you).

Insurance companies determine each driver’s degree of fault on a case-by-case basis depending on the circumstances involved in the case and various factors.


There are a number of factors that can help establish fault in a car accident, including the following:


In certain types of accidents, there may be a presumed version of fault based on state law. For example, in rear-end collisions, the driver who was behind the other vehicle is usually determined to be at fault. This is because the driver from behind is supposed to leave enough space between his or her vehicle and the vehicle in front.

Similarly, there are laws that determine who has the right of way in certain situations. For example,  the standard rule when one vehicle is turning left while oncoming traffic is moving forward is for the turning vehicle to wait until it is clear before turning. If the driver hits an oncoming vehicle while turning left, he or she is usually found to be at fault. However, there may be exceptions, such as if the vehicle going straight was speeding or running a red light.


A police report may be a significant factor in determining fault. The responding officer includes details about the accident and his or her own opinion about the cause of the accident. The officer may note the speed limit in the immediate vicinity, whether he or she observed skid marks, or whether the officer suspected distracted or drunk driving. Insurance companies often review police reports before determining fault allocation.


In some cases, a witness may have observed the accident. Witnesses may explain to the responding officer what they saw. This information may also be recorded in the police report.

The insurance company or your attorney may also attempt to talk to witnesses after the accident to obtain their view on what happened.


Sometimes insurance companies may make their own assessment regarding the cause of the accident by reviewing physical evidence like vehicle repairs and photos of the accident scene.

If you have been in an accident contact Fair Cases Law Group for a free consultation. A free consultation means you can get a better idea of what your claim might be worth without any cost to you.

To learn more about how we can help as your attorney, please call us at (833) 324-7111 and request a free consultation.


The insurance company and your attorney will conduct an investigation and review various evidence to determine the degree of fault of each party. Evidence for proving fault could include:

  • Red light camera footage
  • Surveillance camera footage
  • Black box footage, if available
  • Vehicle damage reports


You may disagree with the insurance company’s ultimate findings. Insurance adjusters are paid to minimize the amounts that insurance companies have to pay out for claims. A personal injury lawyer can advocate on your behalf and conduct an independent investigation to prove why the other driver was at fault.

A Los Angeles personal injury lawyer can protect your rights by filing a timely claim within the time limits provided under the law. A lawyer can discuss results of an independent investigation during settlement talks or at a trial if the insurance company refuses to provide you with just compensation.

At Fair Cases Law Group, we can discuss your legal options during a free initial consultation. We work on a contingency fee basis so you only owe us if we successfully recover on your claim.

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