After an accident, it is vital to receive medical treatment for any injuries you have sustained. It is also important to ensure you receive full financial compensation to cover your medical bills, lost wages and other damages. The most straightforward way to do so is usually to prove to the insurance company that the other driver is at fault for the car accident.
Although determining who caused an accident may seem easy to the untrained eye, it actually can be a complex process. It is important to understand what to do, or not to do, to help resolve your accident claim in your favor.
Different types of fault
After you submit an accident claim, insurance adjusters will need to determine who is at fault. This will impact who receives financial damages and how much goes to each party. In general, there are two types of fault that apply to car accidents:
- Negligence – Behavior that is careless or unintentionally harmful
- Recklessness – Behavior that deliberately disregards the safety of others
The type of fault that is determined to have caused an accident can greatly influence the outcome of your claim.
Factors used to determine fault
Claims adjustors determine fault by looking at four factors: duties, breach, causation and damages. If all four of these are present, the insurance company will likely determine that a particular party is at fault. Let’s take a closer look at these deciding factors:
- Duties – Every driver is responsible for certain duties while on the road. This includes being aware of your surroundings at all times and obeying the law. If you tell an insurance adjustor or police officer that you didn’t see the other car, for example, you may be admitting that you failed to perform your duties and may be partially at fault.
- Breach – If a driver has failed in one or more of their duties, this is considered a breach. If another car runs a red light and you did not make an effort to brake, you could be partially at fault, even though it was the other driver who broke the law.
- Causation – Causation is the connection between a duty breach and the damages that were caused. For example, if failure to wear your seat belt contributed to your injuries, you may end up sharing fault with the other driver.
- Damages – If fault is determined by the preceding three factors, the adjustor then must assess the total cost of damages. It is important to keep detailed records of your accident expenses, including medical costs and vehicle repairs. Other damages such as lost wages or reduced quality of life, may also be considered depending on the situation.
In Colorado, if you are found to be more than 50 percent comparatively at fault for your accident, you will be unable to claim financial damages. Because of this, it is especially important to understand how fault is determined and proceed with your claim with this information in mind. It could be the difference between the success or failure of your insurance claim.