How Is Fault Determined After a Car Accident?

Car Accident

The aftermath of a car accident can be overwhelming, especially when it results in a disabling injury, with costs often exceeding $100,000. Determining who is at fault is vital as it plays a key role in insurance claims, restitution payments, and legal actions. For those in Illinois, securing the services of top-rated car accident lawyers can make all the difference. Legal Finders can help ensure you have the best representation in such situations. With so much on the line, it’s essential to act swiftly and wisely.

To help provide clarity on these issues, we’ll discuss some key aspects of determining fault after a car accident in this quick guide. To accurately assess what happened during an incident, we must first understand all the elements that go into determining vehicle collision faults.

What to Do After a Car Accident

Before determining fault after a car accident, you need first to ensure you and everybody else involved in the accident are okay. After the initial moments of shock wear off, follow these steps.

Check Yourself for Injuries

What’s the very first thing you should do after a car accident? Check yourself for injuries. 

Even if you feel okay right after an incident, latent body aches and pains that are not immediately recognizable may be present. Additionally, some issues related to whiplash or internal trauma can take hours or days to manifest. 

After you’ve checked to ensure you’re okay, check other passengers or people involved in the crash. If they need medical assistance, call 911 immediately.

Get Yourself to Safety

In the event of a car accident, your safety should be the first thing on your mind. You may have to escape from the vehicle to avoid any further danger. 

You also want to avoid exposure to hazardous materials that may have been spilled during the wreck. Quickly getting out of the car could also help protect you from potential explosions or fires. 

Taking a few moments to leave your vehicle is important for both your physical well-being and peace of mind. If there is space, move off to a shoulder or sidewalk.

Call the Police

No matter how minor you think a car accident is, it’s important to call the police after one. This way, a police officer can assess the scene and help document what happened in a legal report. 

Having an official account of the incident could protect you from any false claims or accusations in the future. Calling the police soon after an accident can also provide help for those who are injured.

Exchange Information

Knowing the names, addresses, license plate numbers, and insurance details of those involved can help you get the compensation due to you. It also helps protect your legal rights in case there are any complications down the line.

Document the Accident

Whether you use a camera or pen and paper, capturing the details of the scene and any damage to the cars involved can be invaluable in the event of an insurance claim or legal action. 

Be sure to take note of the following:

  • Time
  • Weather conditions
  • Debris
  • Vehicle positions
  • Damage

Having a record of what happened is essential, especially if you will eventually file an insurance claim or hire a car accident attorney.

What Does “Fault” Mean Legally?

“Fault” is a legal term used to refer to the party responsible for a car accident.

The laws governing fault in each state can vary, but generally, if a driver fails to stop when another driver brakes and causes an accident, they are at fault. 

Determining who is at fault in an accident is important for car insurance companies. It allows them to determine who should be responsible for any resulting damage or injury.

Fault also has implications for civil action cases, as it can determine which party may be liable for damages or other compensation. For insurance purposes, here are the three main types of fault after a car accident.

100% At Fault

If you’re in an accident and are deemed 100% at fault, you are solely responsible for the damages caused. As the term suggests, this is when the other driver had zero fault. For example, if you rear-ended them while they were parked legally.

Your insurance company will be liable to cover any costs associated with the accident, including damage to other vehicles and personal injuries.

51% Or More Fault

In some states, if one driver is found to be 51% or more at fault for an accident, they are held financially responsible for 100% of the damages. This is known as the “51% or more” fault rule (that’s not the legal name, but you get the gist). 

On the other hand, other states have a system where each driver’s insurance company covers their percentage of fault in damages. For example, if a driver is 30% responsible for an accident, their insurance will cover 30%. 

Ultimately, this is why it’s important to know your state’s laws and what percent of fault plays a role in a potential accident.

50/50 Fault

When two drivers are involved in an accident, it can be difficult to determine who is at fault. In these cases, “50/50 fault” may be applied. This means both drivers take equal responsibility for the incident and the costs associated with it. 

Each driver’s insurance company would pay out half of the claim or cost of the damages. Some states may not allow a 5/50 settlement option depending on where the accident occurred and require extra investigation to determine who is liable.

How to Determine Fault

Determining fault in an accident can be challenging, especially with no witnesses. It’s important to consider the perspectives of all the stakeholders involved. This includes the drivers involved, their insurance companies, and the police. 

However, what’s most important is what actually happened

Consider weather conditions, road safety, speed limits, and other factors when deciding who is at fault. Gathering evidence, such as photos of the scene and statements from bystanders, can also help determine fault.

Here are three main ways most individuals and insurance companies determine fault.


An accident involving two or more drivers can be a complicated situation. Each driver’s actions will be considered when determining who was at fault and who was responsible for any damages or injuries caused by the incident.

To protect yourself, it is helpful to provide evidence at the scene of the incident. This is why we suggest the following:

  • Taking photos
  • Gathering contact information of witnesses
  • Exchanging insurance information with the other drivers
  • Making notes about what happened

All these factors are considered before assigning liability for a car accident.

Police Report

A police report is a vital document completed after an auto accident. It outlines the details of the incident, including diagrams depicting the location of the vehicles and any damage. 

Police officers may also assess additional factors, such as driving under the influence or texting while driving, to determine who was at fault. Car insurance companies will then review the report to assist with their investigation and settle any claims made.


Insurance companies specialize in providing coverage for damages, loss, or injuries. They are responsible for offering benefits to those who have purchased insurance policies from them. 

Insurance companies determine how much coverage individuals receive, including how much they pay when filing a claim and what is covered. 

In the case of an accident, insurance companies also decide which claims they will pursue and who will be at fault. Their goal is usually to seek a payout from the at-fault driver’s insurance provider.

What About a No-Fault Car Accident?

A no-fault car accident is one in which an individual does not need to prove fault to receive compensation for their damages. When this type of accident occurs, individuals submit their claims directly to their car insurance provider

This means that both parties can receive coverage for medical expenses and lost income up to the limits of their policy.

Despite no-fault car accident laws, it is still possible to sue for damages exceeding the policy’s limit. Additionally, if the other driver was negligent or reckless, they can also be held liable.

How Can Car Accident Lawyers Help?

In complex car accident cases, you might need legal help. In that case, hiring a car accident lawyer is the best option.

Car accident lawyers specialize in challenging negligence cases and can help victims file for compensation. With a full understanding of the process, an experienced lawyer can gather evidence and build a successful claim to ensure victims get justice. 

We suggest visiting a website like to browse through these types of services. However, here are some benefits of working with these types of professionals.

Understand Your Rights

When you’re in a car accident, it’s important to understand your rights. Depending on the state you’re in, the laws may be different. If someone else caused the accident, you shouldn’t have to pay for damages. 

Working with a lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and allow you to protect yourself from shady insurance companies who may try to make you feel like you have no choice. 

Do your research and know your rights before being taken advantage of.

Protect Legal Rights

Legally, your rights must be protected when you’re in a car accident. This means you can seek compensation for damages and expenses incurred due to the accident. 

It is important to understand how to pursue these rights properly by seeking knowledgeable lawyers to help you navigate the legal process and ensure your rights are respected. 

Lawyers will assess your case and advise on how best to take action so that you receive full financial compensation for any damage.

Negotiate Settlements

Negotiating settlements is a crucial part of the car accident claims process. 

An experienced attorney can help to investigate the details of your accident, gather all relevant information, build and file a personal injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, negotiate a fair settlement if necessary, and even file a lawsuit if needed.

Court Representation

Having a lawyer can make all the difference if you’re ever in an accident and need to go to court. A car accident lawyer will be your advocate throughout the process, fighting for your rights and getting you fair compensation. 

They understand insurers’ tactics, so they are prepared for any situation. With solid legal representation, you can rest assured that justice will be served.

Is Hiring a Car Accident Attorney Worth It?

After a car accident, deciding whether you should hire an attorney can be difficult. Depending on the severity of your accident, there are potential medical expenses, legal fees, and other costs to consider. 

Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney can help ensure you receive the compensation you deserve for any injuries or damages from your accident. 

Additionally, a lawyer can negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf and ensure all deadlines are met. While hiring a lawyer may seem expensive initially, it could save you time and money in the long run.

Get Legal Help

When looking for a car accident attorney after a car accident, it’s important to be aware of the qualifications and experience required to get the best possible outcome. It is imperative to do your research and find an attorney who has a proven track record of winning cases like yours. 

Take your time when selecting a car accident attorney so that you can ensure they are well-equipped to handle your case and maximize your chances of receiving compensation or justice for yourself or your loved ones involved. 

Taking advantage of our guide on what to look for and how to hire the right attorney can mean all the difference when it comes time for court proceedings or settlement negotiations. Click here to read In Need of a Car Accident Lawyer? What You Must Know.


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