How to Determine Who’s at Fault in a Car Accident
How Fault is Determined in an Auto Accident in Connecticut
It’s happened. You’re in a car accident, and after exchanging information and ensuring nobody is hurt, it’s time to determine who is at fault. This step of the process is crucial because it will determine who pays for the damages incurred.
This includes both damage to the automobiles and any medical bills that might result from an injury. Determination of fault is made through a percentage system—if you are found at least 51 percent at fault, you have no right to any compensation.
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This is why using the right legal representation is important to correctly establish fault. Insurance companies will always push to establish fault in a car accident on the other driver to lower their financial responsibility. Sometimes, these issues can be taken to court.
But it’s always advisable to at least understand the basics of establishing fault in a car accident. We’ve compiled several factors to consider when you’ve been in a car accident so you can move forward with confidence and peace of mind during these sometimes troubling times.
Please note—this is in no way a legal opinion on your specific accident. This information should be used as a general guide, but cannot take the place of true legal representation, or be used as an opinion in court. If you have experienced an accident, give us a call today at (203) 597-6364 so we can get to work for you.
At an intersection where working traffic lights are present, establishing fault can be cut and dry. For instance, if you had a green light and went straight through a four-way intersection and were hit on the right side by a vehicle at a red stoplight, that vehicle would automatically be considered at fault for violating traffic laws.
Yet, in intersections with stop signs, it gets more tricky. Oftentimes, there are also no concrete witnesses at these types of collisions, so insurance companies will often want to see if there were any skid marks on the road. In these types of situations especially, having the right lawyer is crucial.
The Negligence Standard
In Connecticut, the “Negligence Standard” is used to determine whether or not someone was operating their vehicle in a safe, law-abiding manner. For those who have not, they could violate the Negligence Standard and be considered at fault for the accident.
Negligent behavior includes all types of driving behaviors that are not in line with reasonable, safe operation of a motor vehicle. Though not a comprehensive list, such behaviors considered negligent are speeding, drinking while driving, and using a cell phone. Because this is a hard factor to spot, always be aware of your surroundings when driving in case negligence becomes a factor.
Rear-Ends and Left Turns
There are a couple of cases where fault can be clearly determined. If you were rear-ended—especially at a stop sign—the other driver is considered to claim the majority of fault. This means that, in most cases, damage to the rear end of your car will almost always prove the other driver was at fault.
Drivers taking a left turn that cause an accident are almost always at fault. This is because, in most cases, there was another vehicle going straight, which always has the right-of-way.
While taking photographs of the damage, make special note of the location of damages on your car. If there is rear-end damage, this means that the other car is almost definitely at fault. If you have damage on the left side of your car, this could also be strong evidence that the other driver is at fault in your car accident.
Wrapping It All Up
As we stated above, you can only be totally sure of who is at fault when you have the best legal representation behind you. After you’ve exchanged information, taken photographs, and contacted the local police to create a report of the accident, contact your lawyer immediately to get the ball rolling on this sometimes arduous process.
Have you experienced an automobile accident where you’re not sure who is at fault? Give us a call at (203) 597-6364.
Timothy C. Moynahan is the CEO and owner of Moynahan Partners, which offers business development consultancy, identifying strategic business partnerships and funding sources. He founded and heads the Moynahan Law Firm, Waterbury, Connecticut, and is “of counsel” to the Jin Law Group at 200 Park Avenue in New York. He is a sought-after and successful trial lawyer, earning the Super Lawyer of New England and Connecticut awards from 2009 to 2012 and Best Criminal Defense Attorney accolade in 2013.