How to Tell Who Is At Fault in a Car Accident
In the event of an auto accident, it is essential to know who is at fault. In some cases if fault is shared by both drivers. However, how do you determine who is at fault? Police officers and accident investigators often spend a great deal of time trying to determine who is at fault or liable. Here are some of the guidelines they use in some fairly common and simple accident situations.
This type of accident happens when someone is merging, changing from one lane to another, or crosses the center line. Almost without exception the driver who was moving from one lane to the other is at fault. These accidents can be prevented by:
- Checking mirrors and blind spots
- Signalling an intent to change lanes
- Judging distance between vehicles correctly
For instance, if a car is entering an interstate from an exit and is merging, it is the car merging who must yield to existing traffic. The same is true if a vehicle is attempting to pass another slower moving vehicle.
In almost all cases, the person traveling straight in the lane of a roadway has the right-of-way unless there is signage instructing the driver otherwise. Such cases are extremely rare.
One exception is if two cars are changing lanes simultaneously on a three lane (or more) roadway, and they meet in the center lane. In that case, it is much harder to determine who moved first, who should have seen the other person, and what measures could have prevented the collision. This is usually a comparative or shared fault accident.
Merging accidents can also be shared fault. If the driver who had the right of way sped up or intentionally blocked the merging vehicle, or is breaking the law in some other way (such as traveling in excess of the speed limit) they can be at least partially at fault.
As a general rule though, fault in these accidents is easy to prove. The key is to take witness statements and thoroughly document the situation to prove who was traveling in which lane at the time of the accident, and which vehicle had the right of way.