How Do You Determine Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident?

After you suffer injuries in a crash, determining who is at fault for the car accident will play a key role in whether you can file a personal injury lawsuit. In North Carolina, you must prove that the other driver’s actions were the sole cause of in order to have a successful claim.

When a law enforcement officer investigates a crash, he or she may provide their opinion as to the cause of the accident. However the other party’s insurance company is not bound by the opinions reached by the investigating officer. The insurance company will conduct their own investigation, speak with all of the drivers involved and then decide fault. A driver involved in a motor vehicle accident should never speak to an insurance adjuster without having an attorney present. Why Is It Important to Assign Fault in a Car Accident in North Carolina?

North Carolina is one of only a few states that has a contributory negligence law. According to the North Carolina Department of Insurance, contributory negligence means that any driver found to be at least partially at fault for an accident cannot collect any damages. You cannot file a personal injury lawsuit to recover medical costs, lost wages, or a pain and suffering if you contributed, in any way, to causing the crash.

This clearly shows the importance of determining who is at fault in a car accident in the state of North Carolina. You may suffer life-altering injuries in the crash that leave you with staggeringly high medical bills and an inability to work. You may be relying on a personal injury settlement to help you and your family maintain a quality of life similar to what you had before the accident. Without an ability to be compensated through a personal injury claim because an insurance adjuster says you were slightly at fault for the crash, you could be facing a difficult financial future.

How Do You Decide Who Is at Fault in an Accident?

Whether it’s a police officer, an insurance adjuster, or a personal injury attorney attempting to determine blame in a car crash, all of these parties will follow many of the same processes and techniques. When you hire a law firm to represent your interests for a potential personal injury claim after the accident, the attorneys will work to try to find evidence that shows you did not do anything wrong or contribute to the crash. Your attorney may also attempt to find evidence that shows the other driver is fully at fault.

How a Traffic Ticket Plays a Role in Determining Fault

One of the most important determining factors in deciding who is at fault in an accident is whether police issue a traffic ticket for a moving violation to either driver or both drivers. The issuance of a traffic ticket is a key piece of evidence that one driver committed an error while driving that led to the accident. Or if both drivers receive a ticket, insurance adjusters have the ability to assign at least some blame to both drivers, causing the state’s contributory negligence law to potentially bar your claim.

If you received a traffic ticket as part of the car accident, you may want to hire an attorney to try to show that you did not commit the alleged violation. If you successfully fight the ticket, this may allow you show that the other driver was fully at fault for the crash. This then gives you a chance to win a personal injury judgment.

Showing Fault for the Other Driver

If police did not issue a traffic ticket to either driver, your attorney may seek evidence that shows the other driver is to blame for the crash. This could occur if the other driver was drinking before the crash, but the other driver did not exceed the limits for North Carolina’s DWI laws. Police may not issue a traffic ticket in a case like this. However, even a small amount of alcohol could cause the other driver to make a poor decision behind the wheel or to be slow to react to changes in traffic, resulting in the crash.

Interviewing Witnesses to the Crash

Deciding who is at fault in an accident often requires speaking with everyone involved in the crash. This could be the drivers, the passengers, or anyone who was in the vicinity of the accident. Police typically will interview people in the immediate aftermath of the crash at the scene. These interviews often will be part of the accident report.

However, police might not interview everyone involved. Additionally, some people may remember important details a day or two after the accident that they fail to give to police. Officers might not receive all of the necessary information to determine the at-fault driver in the car accident. Our car accident attorney will revisit all of these interviews, seeking to speak to every witness, so we can present an accurate picture of whether the other driver was to blame for the accident.

Using Technology to Determine Fault in a Car Accident

Another area where a personal injury attorney may be able to uncover new facts about the crash involves using technology. Police will not always have access to technology sources when compiling an accident investigation and report. Some of these sources may only come to light several days after the accident, giving your attorney an opportunity to use them to potentially counteract items in the police report.

We may be able to find video of the accident scene from security cameras or from smartphone cameras that paint the most accurate picture of the crash’s cause. If one or both drivers have a telemetry data collection device inside the car, this data can provide clues as to what the driver was doing and why the crash occurred. Cell phone records may show that the other driver was texting just before the accident. We also may be able to hire an accident reconstructionist to study the damage to the vehicles and to recreate the accident scene using computer software. These tools may show that the other driver was clearly at fault, even if police did not assign blame in the accident report.

Our Attorneys Can Help Determine Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident

Because the process of assigning blame in a car crash in North Carolina is so important, having our car accident attorneys on your side may be a significant advantage for you. Our team has spent many decades obtaining recovery for victims injured in automobile accidents. We have extensive experience negotiating cases involving car accidents in North Carolina and representing victims in North Carolina courtrooms. We have multiple techniques we can use to try to deal with the state’s contributory negligence law.

When you are ready to fight the insurance adjuster regarding fault in your car accident case, Sumwalt Anderson Law Firm is ready to help. Contact us today for a free case review at (704) 377-3770.

Attorney Richard Anderson

Richard “Rick” Anderson is a native Charlottean. He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1990 and his Juris Doctorate law degree from the Wake Forest University School of Law in 1993. Rick focuses his practice on workers’ compensation, medical negligence, and catastrophic personal injury cases. You will find Rick to be an honest and dedicated advocate ready to fight for his clients. When he accepts your case, Rick makes a personal commitment to you and uses his 27 years of knowledge and experience to advance your lawsuit to achieve a successful outcome. [ Attorney Bio ]


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