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July 27, 2021
How to Tell Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident? Who Determines the Fault & Liability?
by Evan Breaux | Auto Accidents | 0 comments
How to Tell Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident? Who Determines the Fault and Liability

Determining who is at fault in a car accident generally means identifying the negligent party. Sometimes it’s easy to find out who is at fault in a car accident. However, in some cases, it is hard to identify and establish the negligent party’s fault.

A few different factors are used to determine which driver is at fault in a car accident including state laws and details of the accident. First, it depends on what state you were in when the auto accident occurred. 

No-Fault States

About one-third of the states in the US are “no-fault” states, which means drivers in those states are required to carry personal injury protection as part of their car insurance. Also known as “PIP coverage” or “no-fault insurance,” this type of insurance coverage will pay for medical expenses, no matter which driver is deemed at fault. 

According to the Insurance Information Institute, many states began requiring personal injury protection in the 1970s after the public began criticizing the lengthy and expensive process of determining legal liability after car accidents. To answer this reasonable criticism, speed up the process of determining liability, and make the auto insurance system more efficient as a whole, some states passed legislation that allowed victims to recoup costs associated with their accident from their own insurance company, regardless of who caused the accident, via personal injury protection coverage. 

It is important to note, however, that personal injury protection does not cover damages to the vehicle; rather, personal injury protection is usually added on to a vehicle owner’s collision coverage, comprehensive coverage, or property damage liability coverage. 

At-Fault States

Other states, like Louisiana, follow a more traditional at-fault system (also called a “tort” system). This means the driver who caused the accident uses his or her insurance to cover the costs incurred by the other victims of the car accident. 

This also makes the process of determining legal liability more time-consuming, expensive, and somewhat less efficient.

But that’s where an experienced and highly knowledgeable personal injury attorney—like the attorneys at Breaux Law Firm — can step in and ensure that fault is accurately determined and victims are fairly compensated for their hospital bills, lost wages, emotional distress, and other costs. 

Who Determines Fault in an Auto Accident?

Louisiana is a pure comparative negligence state according to the Civil Code 2323. This tort law compares the fault of all the involved persons in a lawsuit. Comparative responsibility divides the fault among parties by percentages, and then accordingly divides the accident-related expenses on the liable drivers.

In general, in an at-fault state like Louisiana, legal liability is determined by the police and insurance companies. Each entity will use the evidence gathered at the accident site to decide who is at fault. This evidence may include the following:

  • The police report
  • Reports from all involved parties
  • Eyewitness interviews
  • Phone and video evidence taken by all parties
  • Surveillance video in the area surrounding the accident

An insurance adjuster is a person hired by the insurance company to determine fault after reviewing the police report and all available evidence. In more complex car accidents, an insurance adjuster may possibly assign a percentage of fault to each driver. 

This will also determine the percentage of damages each victim of the accident can seek reimbursement for. The driver who is found at fault by the police, insurance adjuster, or the court will then be held accountable for the damages (or percentage of damages) they caused by their negligence.

After legal liability has been determined, the at-fault driver’s insurance pays all costs related to the other driver’s personal and property damages. 

Why Work with a Personal Injury Attorney After a Car Accident?

If you are injured in a car accident for which you were not the driver at fault, there are three ways to move forward and seek compensation from the driver who was responsible for the accident: 

  1. You may seek reimbursement through your own insurance company
  2. You may seek reimbursement through the other driver’s insurance company
  3. You may file a personal injury lawsuit

If you choose to file a personal injury lawsuit in Louisiana, the court will determine who was at fault for the car accident in order to hold the negligent driver financially responsible.

While Louisiana law requires drivers to carry a minimum amount of insurance, the at-fault driver may not have enough coverage to pay for your injuries and all damages. In this situation, it may be more effective to file a lawsuit with the help of an experienced attorney. 

The process of filing a claim with another driver’s insurance company or filing a personal injury lawsuit can be intimidating and overwhelming. A personal injury attorney works as your guide and legal expert, ensuring that you are properly compensated. At Breaux Law Firm, we understand the feelings you may be experiencing after a car accident, and we work hard to make the process of seeking compensation for your injuries and losses as easy for you as possible. Your priority should be recovering from the accident and getting your life back to normal.

If you were in an accident for which you were legally responsible, you should also consider seeking out legal representation. The highly experienced lawyers at Breaux Law Firm can review all evidence and discuss your case with you to make sure all aspects of the accident have been thoroughly and fairly reviewed. For example, there may be a component of the accident that makes another party partially responsible. 

Keep in mind that since Louisiana has a statute of limitations of one year, you have exactly one year from the date of the car accident to sue the at-fault driver, or for the at-fault driver to sue you. 

Why Choose Breaux Law Firm?

Filing a claim can be a stressful and overwhelming process, but working with a lawyer should not be. A personal injury attorney should treat you with respect, honesty, and care—and that’s what we do at Breaux Law Firm. If you aren’t sure whether or not you need a lawyer after your accident, reach out to our attorneys at Breaux Law Firm for a free consultation. The consultation is free because we don’t get paid unless you do, and we will honestly assess your case to determine what is the best course of action for you. 

If you need expert legal advice and someone to fight for what you deserve in the New Orleans region or the state of Louisiana, don’t hesitate to turn to Breaux Law Firm. We provide personalized attention and care to each of our clients, and we fight for you as if we were fighting for one of our own family members. Contact the personal injury team at Breaux Law Firm for your free consultation today.