Being involved in a car accident is stressful. And if you’re seriously injured, you can be impacted physically, emotionally, and financially. This can be overwhelming during recovery because you also need to worry about who’s at fault to get accident benefits to cover your medical and rehabilitation expenses.
Determining who was at fault is important because it impacts how much compensation you’ll get. It is a complicated process that involves identifying who acted negligently or carelessly. That’s why it’s advisable to consult a car accident lawyer.
Look at this brief guide about at-fault determination so you know your basic rights and what to do when involved in a car crash.
How to Determine Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident
Were you involved in an auto accident? Then you may be eligible for compensation. But to get the accident benefits you deserve, it must be determined that you weren’t at fault.
Factors That Determine Fault in a Car Accident
When determining the fault in a car accident, many factors are taken into consideration, such as:
1) Road Conditions
Poor road conditions can lead to accidents. These include potholes or sinkholes, narrow roads, ongoing road construction, uneven lanes, construction debris, and confusing road signs. If the accident occurred because of road conditions, the claim should be made against the government agency in charge of road conditions, instead of the other party.
Driver negligence is one of the most common reasons for auto accidents. There are many instances of negligence, including:
- Driving under the influence
- Taking prescription medicines that make the driver drowsy
- Running a red light
- Texting or otherwise being on a phone
- Eating or drinking while driving
- Talking to backseat passengers
- Inattentive driving
Eyewitness testimony, photographs, CCTV footage, and medical records play a vital role in determining the fault in a car crash. Your car accident lawyer will be able to use this evidence in court so you get the compensation you deserve.
4) Damage to the Vehicle
The extent and type of damage to the vehicle involved in the accident are crucial when determining who was responsible for the incident. (Example: if the driver claims they sustained soft tissue injuries because they were rear-ended at 80 km/h but there’s no serious damage to their car, the jury won’t be convinced.)
5) Official Police Report
The official police report is an important document as it details the incident. Insurance companies rely on this report because it tends to be more reliable and less biased than the accounts of the parties involved.
Ontario’s Fault Determination Rules
In Ontario, all insurance companies abide by the Fault Determination Rules in the Insurance Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. I.8, Reg. 668. These determine who is responsible for a given accident. They outline more than 40 common collision scenarios, with each having a corresponding percentage assigned to each driver. This is how the fault percentage is decided.
Some of the scenarios in the rules include:
- Automobiles travelling in the same direction and lane
- (a)If vehicle A is struck from the rear by vehicle B and both were travelling in the same direction and lane and if vehicle A is in forward motion, then driver A is not at fault and driver B is fully responsible for the accident.
- (b)If vehicle A is turning (right or left) to enter a side lane, driveway or private road, driver B is at fault and driver A is not.
- Automobiles travelling in the same direction in the adjacent lane
- (a)If neither vehicle A nor vehicle B has changed their lanes and both vehicles are on the centre lane when the accident occurred, both drivers are 50% responsible for the accident.
- (b)If the location of the vehicles at the time of the accident (sideswipe) can’t be determined, each driver is 50% at fault. If the accident occurred when vehicle B was changing lanes, driver A is not at fault and driver B is responsible for the incident.
- Automobiles travelling in opposite directions
- (a)If neither vehicle A nor vehicle B changed lanes and both the vehicles were on the centre lane when the accident took place, the driver of each vehicle is 50% responsible for the incident.
- (b)If vehicle B is over the centre line of the road at the time of the accident, driver A is not at fault and driver B will be held responsible for the accident.
You can read all the scenarios here.
The challenge is when accidents are the result of a unique sequence of events or a combination of many factors, like traffic conditions and distracted driving. In these cases, a scenario is finalized that closely resembles the impact.
Fault determination in a vehicle accident is crucial. It can impact your insurance premiums and the amount of compensation the victim of a car crash gets through a tort claim. It is advisable to consult an experienced and knowledgeable car accident lawyer to prove who is at fault and get the accident benefits you deserve. They will analyze the details of your case, collect evidence and suggest the best course of action, thus protecting your rights and helping you be fairly compensated.