Determining Fault in Lakewood Car Accidents

Posted on Tuesday, May 21st, 2024 at 9:00 am    

After a car accident in Lakewood, which driver was at fault affects everything from whose insurance pays for vehicle damage to whether you can recover compensation for your injuries. But how is fault determined in a car accident?

Fault determination involves evidence collection, witness interviews, and negotiations with insurance companies. Here’s how fault is determined in Washington car accidents and what you can do to protect your rights after a crash.

How Is Fault Determined in a Car Accident?

In Washington, the at-fault driver bears financial responsibility for injuries and property damage they cause. After an accident, insurance companies investigate to determine fault and liability.

Several factors come into play when determining fault, including:

  • Police reports
  • Statements from drivers and witnesses
  • Photos and videos from the accident scene
  • Physical evidence like vehicle damage, skid marks, and debris
  • Traffic laws and right-of-way rules

Insurance adjusters combine these elements to create a picture of how the accident happened and who was to blame. They may also examine the drivers’ actions leading up to the crash, such as speeding, distracted driving, or driving under the influence.

In some cases, the fault is clear-cut. For example, a driver who runs a red light and T-bones another vehicle will likely be found at fault. However, many accidents involve shared fault, where both drivers bear some responsibility.

Under Washington’s contributory fault rules, you can still recover compensation even if you were partially at fault for an accident. However, your compensation will be reduced accordingly. If you were awarded $100,000 in damages but 20 percent at fault, you would receive $80,000.

It’s important to remember that insurance companies are not on your side. They aim to pay out as little as possible and may try to shift blame to avoid liability. An experienced car accident lawyer will investigate independently and fight for the compensation you deserve.

How to Prove Fault in a Car Accident

Proving fault in a car accident requires strong evidence and skilled negotiation. Some of the most crucial evidence to review when determining fault includes:

Police Reports

When you call 911 after an accident, the responding officer will create an accident report detailing their observations and opinions on fault. While police reports are inconclusive, they provide strong evidence in insurance claims and legal proceedings.

Witness Statements

Testimony from impartial witnesses can sway fault determination in your favor. Collect contact information from any witnesses at the scene. Your attorney can follow up to get detailed statements to support your case.

Videos and Photos

Video footage is increasingly common in today’s world. Many accidents are captured on dashcams, traffic cameras, or nearby surveillance cameras. Witnesses may take video on their cell phones if they anticipate an accident may be about to occur. Video evidence of this sort can provide indisputable proof of fault.

Even if you don’t have video, take plenty of photos at the accident scene. Capture vehicle damage, skid marks, traffic signs, and road conditions. Photos help piece together how the accident happened and identify important details.

Physical Evidence

Physical evidence left behind, like vehicle debris, damaged property, and skid marks, helps accident reconstruction experts determine factors like speed, braking, and point of impact. Preserve evidence at the scene or have your attorney document it immediately.

Medical Records

Medical records link your injuries directly to the accident and provide insight into the severity of the impact. Keep detailed records of your injuries, treatment, and medical expenses to support your claim for damages.

How to Tell Who Is at Fault in an Accident Report

After an accident, read the police report carefully. The officer typically includes a narrative of what happened and their opinions on fault. They may cite broken traffic laws or assign blame to one or more parties.

However, police reports are not always conclusive. Insurance companies conduct their own investigations using the information in the report and other evidence like witness statements and photos.

If you disagree with the fault determination in the police report, you can challenge it with the help of an attorney. Your lawyer can point out errors, inconsistencies, or missing information that could sway the outcome in your favor.

Speak to a Skilled Lakewood Car Accident Attorney Today

Were you injured in a car accident in Lakewood? Fault determination can make or break your case. Let the experienced attorneys at The Law Offices of Briggs & Briggs fight for your rights. We’ve stood up for Lakewood accident victims for over 70 years. We understand fault determination and how to build a strong case for maximum compensation. Our attorneys investigate independently, gather crucial evidence, and negotiate aggressively with insurance companies on your behalf.

You shouldn’t have to bear the financial burden of an accident that wasn’t your fault. Let us fight to hold the at-fault party accountable and secure the compensation you deserve. Contact The Law Offices of Briggs & Briggs today at (253) 588-6696 for a free case review. You pay nothing unless we win your case, so you have nothing to lose by reaching out.