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

In nearly every state in the country, the person who causes a car accident will have to pay for the damages. You may be concerned about these costs and wonder how you determine who is at fault in a car accident. In some states, if there are two people who are partially responsible, they will share the costs. In some places, the costs are paid by the person who is the “most” responsible when their actions are compared to the other person involved.

Under the law, this is called determining liability, or determining who is at fault. How one determines liability is a process of looking at the facts of what happened in the accident. If you don’t have strong knowledge of Mississippi laws, you may not understand how to determine fault in a car accident. That is why it’s important to work with an experienced car accident lawyer who can explain how the laws apply to assign responsibility for the accident.

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

Determination of fault relates to proving negligence in an injury case. In such a case, the people whose negligent actions cause harm to others can be held responsible for any damages their actions cause. To show that someone is negligent you have to establish:

  • There is a duty to exercise care.
  • Through some action, they breached that duty (acted negligently).
  • The breach of the duty caused some harm.
  • There are damages suffered by someone because of the harm.

These are the four elements of a negligence case. They are also the elements of determining fault in a car accident. When we are on the road, we expect that other drivers have a duty to obey the rules of the road. Unfortunately, they don’t always do so. For example, a driver may breach that duty by going the wrong way down a one-way street and cause an accident. You, the victim, may have suffered some damages because of the negligent actions of that driver. In this situation, the other driver is “at fault” for the accident and should pay compensation to the person injured.

How Do Insurance Companies Determine Who is at Fault in an Accident?

The person who is at fault is responsible for compensating the person harmed in an accident. However, car accidents usually involve insurance companies’ paying that compensation. Insurance companies may have to establish fault to determine whether they will pay for damages caused by the person who is insured by their policy. Insurance companies will look at the facts and apply those facts to the local laws to find fault.

Insurance companies have investigators called “adjusters.” They examine everything they can regarding a car accident. They will question the people involved in the accident. They will talk to witnesses if there are any. They will also review police reports if police were involved. The insurance adjuster will decide who is at fault to determine how much they will offer as a settlement for the accident.

How Does Mississippi Law Determine Who is at Fault in a Car Accident?

Mississippi follows common law with regard to determining fault in a car accident. The party that caused harm will be responsible for damages. However, Mississippi follows the comparative negligence doctrine. If you are completely at fault for an accident, you will pay 100% of the costs caused by the damages.

If you are only partially responsible for the accident, the court will determine what percentage of the damages you are responsible for. The other party will be responsible for the difference.

For example, if you are found to be 20% at fault for an accident and the total damages are determined to be $10,000, you can receive only $8,000 of those damages.

How Do You Know Who is at Fault in an Automobile Accident?

If you are involved in an automobile accident, you might think you know who is at fault. You may make a report to the police, and they may think they know who is at fault. The police may put someone’s name down on their report. While you and the other driver, witnesses, and even the police officer may know a version of what happened, all information related to an accident is reviewed by an insurance adjuster. Determination of fault is not a factual question.

The adjuster may determine who is at fault based on their investigation, but that determination holds no legal weight. You don’t have to accept their assessment. The insurance company is not looking out for your interests. They will try to save money for their company. To get fair compensation, you may want to take the following steps:

If you are in an automobile accident:

  • Gather as much factual information as possible.
  • If there is a police report, get a copy.
  • Talk to potential witnesses and collect their contact information
  • Do not assume the accident is anyone’s fault — yours, the other driver’s, or a third party’s.
  • Do not tell anyone you think the accident is your fault.
  • Contact an experienced attorney.

A car accident lawyer can be your advocate when it comes to determining fault in an accident. When you work with an attorney, they will work to get you the best possible outcome in your case. In most situations, when you have legal representation, the final settlement amount offered by an insurance company is higher than when no attorney is involved.

Our Florence Car Accident Lawyer Gets Winning Results

Faithful Service to Our Clients

At Ringer, Lingold & Spencer, we have been faithfully serving the people of Mississippi for decades. We provide help for people who have suffered an injury because of someone else’s negligence. We are proud to help the people of this state get fair compensation if they have been injured in a car accident on the Mississippi roads. Call us at (601) 845-5050 to discuss how fault may be determined in your car accident and to learn your legal options.

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