How to Tell Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident

December 1, 2023 | Thomas L. Stroble
How to Tell Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident

In some car accident scenarios, it can be difficult to determine how the accident occurred or who was at fault. In these circumstances, always have an experienced car accident attorney on board in your case.

Your lawyer may review the police report and retain an accident reconstructionist who can determine how the accident likely occurred. An accident reconstructionist may also serve as an expert who can testify in court if your legal matter goes to trial.

In addition to retaining experts in your case, a knowledgeable Michigan car accident lawyer can handle every step of the process for you, negotiate with insurance company adjusters on your behalf, and file a lawsuit in your case, if necessary.

Also, if questions arise during the process, your lawyer can answer them promptly and make important decisions throughout your case.

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Car Accident Investigations

How to Tell Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident

In some car accident scenarios, especially where three or more vehicles are involved, it can be difficult to tell how the accident occurred and who was responsible. Therefore, if you suffer injuries in a crash, consult a car accident lawyer in your area as quickly as possible.

Once you retain a lawyer for legal representation, they can begin an investigation into your accident circumstances and decide who was at fault.

First, your attorney can request a copy of the police report and any other documentation that may shed light on how the accident happened, including written witness statements or video camera footage from a nearby business that recorded the accident in progress.

Sometimes, a car accident lawyer may need to involve an expert when determining how your accident occurred. In that situation, they can get an accident reconstructionist on board.

A certified accident reconstructionist can use forensic techniques, including tire skid marks and other clues from the accident scene that may shed additional light on how the accident happened.

Additionally, an accident reconstructionist may speak with witnesses to the car accident, review the police report, and speak to you about the accident. They may then draft a report detailing how the accident occurred and the vehicle driver who was likely responsible for it.

If your attorney files a lawsuit and it proceeds through litigation, an accident reconstructionist may testify in a deposition supporting your case. Additionally, if your case goes to a civil jury trial, the accident reconstructionist can testify as a witness on the witness stand in support of your case.

Common Injuries in a Car Crash

Car crashes can lead to debilitating injuries for drivers and passengers alike. Because every car crash scenario differs, not every accident victim will suffer the same injuries and losses.

The force of the car accident, the speeds of the vehicles, and other factors will usually determine the nature and extent of an accident victim's injuries. In some cases, a car crash victim will suffer injuries with lifelong effects.

Some of the most common injuries that car crash victims may suffer include bruises, soft tissue whiplash injuries, open cuts and lacerations, spinal cord damage, complete and incomplete paralysis injuries, internal bleeding, internal organ damage, permanent scarring, rib fractures, broken bones, and mouth and teeth injuries.

Your top priority after suffering injuries in a local car accident is to obtain the medical treatment you need to get better. Specifically, you may consult a primary care doctor, medical specialist, physical therapist, or occupational therapist.

Also, complete your medical treatment regimen to fully recover from your injuries. Also, by seeking continuous medical treatment, the insurance company handling your claim will know that your injuries are serious, and they may be more likely to compensate you with the monetary damages you truly deserve.

In the meantime, your attorney can gather the medical documentation, police report, and other potential evidence for your case. During this time, you can focus on your medical treatment and making a full recovery from your injuries.

Car Accident Types

When other drivers fail to exercise safety on the road, they may cause an accident that leads to serious injuries for other drivers and passengers.

Some of the most common types of accidents that lead to serious injuries include:

  • Sideswipe accidents, where one vehicle strikes the side of another vehicle, usually on a multilane road
  • Broadside or T-bone accidents, where the front of a vehicle hits the side of another vehicle, usually from a failure to yield the right-of-way at the appropriate time
  • Head-on collisions, where the front of two vehicles strike one another while traveling in opposite directions and opposing travel lanes, typically resulting in permanent injuries and sometimes fatalities
  • Tailgate or rear-end accidents, where a driver who is driving too fast or fails to leave enough stopping distance causes the front of their vehicle to hit the back of another vehicle, often leading to soft tissue whiplash injuries for drivers and passengers in the front vehicle.

After suffering injuries in one of these accidents, you should get medical treatment immediately and consult an experienced car accident attorney about potential legal options. Your attorney can identify your options, file insurance claims on your behalf, and pursue the settlement compensation you deserve.

How Car Accidents Usually Happen

When drivers disobey traffic laws, engage in distracted driving, or drive while intoxicated, they are more likely to cause a traffic accident and severe injuries.

One of the most common causes of accidents is distracted driving. The large number of electronic devices in vehicles today creates the potential for distracted driving.

Some of the most common distractions today include texting, following a GPS, or otherwise using a cell phone or in-car infotainment system. These distractions may cause drivers to take their eyes off or look away from the road, even briefly.

When drivers fail to devote their full time and attention to the road, they may cause a serious accident with another vehicle or a pedestrian.

Traffic accidents can also happen when people drive recklessly. Often, drivers are in a hurry and will do everything possible to move ahead of other traffic.

For example, a driver may aggressively honk their horn, attempt to pass other vehicles in a no-passing zone, cut off other vehicles in traffic, or weave around traffic on a busy highway without using a turn signal.

In the process, however, a driver may inadvertently cause the front or side of their vehicle to strike another vehicle and bring about serious injuries and damages.

Car accidents may also occur when drivers violate standard traffic laws and regulations. For example, a driver may exceed the speed limit or fail to yield the right-of-way to other vehicles at a traffic intersection.

Alternatively, a driver may fail to look at their rearview or sideview mirrors regularly while driving, or they may fail to use the various technological devices on their vehicles, including lane-change warning devices, side cameras, and backup cameras.

Finally, traffic accidents can occur when drivers get behind the wheel after having too much to drink. With alcohol, most passenger vehicle operators are intoxicated if their blood alcohol concentration reaches a level of 0.08 percent or higher. If Breathalyzer evidence or chemical testing shows that the driver's BAC is at or exceeds the legal limit, a police officer may arrest them for DUI.

In addition to incurring criminal penalties for DUI, including monetary fines and jail time, a driver might lose their license or have to pay civil penalties.

Many of the dangers associated with drunk driving are obvious, including blurred vision, impaired reflexes, and delayed reaction time. An intoxicated driver may also experience poor judgment, poor muscular coordination, and lack of concentration.

All these symptoms may cause the driver to become inattentive to the road or prevent them from seeing or reacting to an approaching vehicle, resulting in a serious accident.

If you sustained injuries in a car accident that occurred because another driver behaved carelessly or recklessly, you are not alone. In addition to seeking the medical treatment you need right away, consult a car accident lawyer about your case and review your legal options.

Your attorney can file the appropriate claim on your behalf and pursue the settlement compensation you need from the at-fault driver's insurance company.

Filing an Insurance Claim Following a Car Crash

Filing an Insurance Claim Following a Car Crash

Following a car accident, your car accident lawyer can file the appropriate insurance claim. If your car accident happened in Michigan or another no-fault state, you will first turn to your own insurance company and pursue a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance claim.

Under a PIP claim, you can pursue monetary recovery for lost income, loss of household services, medical expenses, and other out-of-pocket costs. However, if you suffered a permanent or disabling injury in your car accident, you can file a third-party personal injury claim with the at-fault driver's insurer.

To prevail in a third-party claim, you must satisfy several legal elements of proof, including duty, breach, causation, and damages.

First, you must establish that the other driver violated the legal duty they owed to you, such as by breaking a traffic law or regulation.

Next, you must show that as a direct result of the other driver's careless and reckless behavior, both your accident and injuries happened.

You may recover monetary damages if you successfully prove your third-party personal injury claim.

First, you can recover your out-of-pocket costs, including compensation for lost earnings, medical expenses, and loss of earning capacity if you had to switch to a lower-paying job (and accept a lower rate of pay) due to your injuries. 

Additionally, you may be eligible to receive non-economic damages, which may compensate you for various intangible losses.

Some of the most common types of non-economic damages that car accident victims may recover include loss of the ability to use a body part, lifetime or long-term care costs, permanent disability or disfigurement, lost quality of life, pain and suffering, mental distress, inconvenience, and loss of spousal consortium and companionship.

Since every car crash case is different, the total monetary award you are eligible to receive will depend on the accident circumstances, including the jurisdiction where your accident happened.

Your attorney can calculate the value of your case so that you know what to expect and can develop realistic expectations. Your attorney can also handle all settlement negotiations with insurance company representatives for you and pursue the highest amount of compensation available.

If the insurance company does not make you a settlement offer that is fair and reasonable, your lawyer can pursue litigation options in your case, including taking your case to a civil jury trial for adjudication or an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) proceeding - for instance, mediation or arbitration.

Talk to a Car Accident Lawyer in Your Area Today

Upon suffering injuries because of another driver, always reach out to a local car accident lawyer as quickly as possible about your legal options. Your attorney can probably start investigating your accident circumstances and, if necessary, bring a certified accident reconstructionist on board in your case, along with other potential experts.

Retaining legal counsel early in the process is important because, under the statute of limitations, accident victims must file a lawsuit within three years of their accident date. If they miss the deadline and file their lawsuit after it expires, they will no longer be eligible for monetary damages for their injuries. Therefore, you need to act right away when securing legal counsel.

Thomas L. Stroble
Thomas Stroble, Michigan Car Accident Lawyer

In addition to investigating your car accident circumstances, your lawyer can file the appropriate claim on your behalf, negotiate aggressively with representatives from insurance companies, or litigate your case to a resolution through the court system or via ADR proceedings.

Your lawyer's main goal will be to ensure that you receive the full monetary compensation you deserve for all your accident-related injuries and losses.

Consultations with reputable Michigan personal injury attorneys are free, so you can get an evaluation of your rights and options with nothing to lose. Further, it costs nothing if you decide to hire the lawyer, as you do not pay fees unless you successfully obtain compensation.

Thomas L. Stroble Author Image

Thomas L. Stroble


Mr. Stroble is a highly accomplished graduate of Michigan State University, with degrees in both science and law. He specializes in commercial lawsuits and personal injury cases. Licensed to practice law in Michigan and even the U.S. Supreme Court, he’s a well-qualified legal expert. Besides his career in law, he loves outdoor activities and volunteers as a part-time police officer in Birmingham.

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