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Car Accident Liability: Whose Fault Is It?

In most cases, an accident will be someone's fault. Was the other driver negligent or was a mistake made? If the accident was not your fault, it's important to have evidence to back up your claim when you file the report to your insurer. Saying that it was not your fault is not always enough.

Here are some ways you can make your argument stronger.

Police Reports

Police reports are simply the written accounts of the officer who studied the accident. The report contains the officer's opinion on what happened along with statements from each party involved. They will also indicate if any traffic tickets are issued while on the scene. Where there is an injury, police officers almost always show up to make a report. If your community has limited police resources or there is no injury, a police officer may not come to the scene of the accident. In this case, the parties can go to their local police station to file the accident report.

If you do have a police officer present at the scene of your accident, be sure to ask how you can get a copy of the police report. This will be one of the most important pieces of evidence you will present to your insurance company.

  1. Tip: Amending a Police Report - If you feel the police report is inaccurate, there are ways to amend it. If it is a factual mistake, like an incorrect driver's license number, you can change the report by showing your driver's license to the police. If the mistake is a matter of opinion, it is more difficult to change. Police departments generally handle these matters differently by precinct but they will most likely ask you to add your statement to the police report.

State Traffic Laws

Vehicle code, often referred to as state traffic laws, are a great way to prove liability. In Tennessee, you'll find these laws, collectively called the "Comprehensive Driver License Manual," online or at your local DMV. After you've found the law that applies to your accident, you are in a better situation to negotiate with the insurance company. Be sure to use the wording of the law accurately as it won't help your case to refer to it incorrectly.

Rear-End Accidents

Rear-end collisions are very common. If a car hits you from behind, it's almost never your fault. However, a basic rule of driving is to leave enough room in front of you so if you need to stop suddenly, you will have enough space to do so. If a driver hits you from behind, they may have a claim against a third party driver who caused you to stop suddenly or if the car behind them pushed them into the back of your car.

If you hit someone from behind, there are a few scenarios where the other driver could be partially responsible. If their brake lights were out, if they had a flat tire, or if they stopped in the middle of the road for no reason, they could be liable for some of the damage.

Left-Turn Collisions

Left turn accidents are almost always the fault of the driver turning left. Cars coming into the intersection will have the right of way in most cases. However, if the car going through the intersection was speeding or running a red light, some or all of the liability shifts away from the driver turning left.

Get legal help

Minor fender-benders can still cause major injuries. If you've been hurt, simply exchanging phone numbers may not be enough to resolve the case. It's best to have an experienced injury attorney review your claim for free. If you have a valid claim, most attorneys will wait until you have settled your case to collect any fees. 

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