Car Insurance Claims – How Is Fault Decided?

Car accidents are not only physically and emotionally distressing; they can also leave a huge dent on your finances – especially if you are not aware of the car insurance claims process.

Car Insurance Claims – How Is Fault Decided?

In order to process a car insurance claim, and receive reimbursement for the damages you’ve incurred, it is imperative to decide who was at fault – in other words, where the money will be coming from.

While at times the at-fault party may be evident – a drunk driver, or somebody who’s run a light etc. – this is often not easy to determine and requires keen assessment based on the law.

To understand the route your auto insurance company will take to ascertain accountability, we suggest you read our brief guide.

The Process Of Determining Liability For Car Insurance Claims


The first step in the car insurance claims process is gathering evidence.

Car Insurance Claims – How Is Fault Decided?

If you’ve been in an accident, it is important to record as much information as you can about the incident.
Here a few things you can do:

  • Notify the police if they haven’t arrived
  • Take notes of the scene of the accident
  • Gather information about the other driver
  • Take pictures
  • Seek medical help

The evidence you provide to your insurer will be assessed to decide liability.

To further check the accuracy of your information, the car insurance company will look into police accounts and incident reports, and determine the at-fault party under the law.

Witness Accounts

The bystanders and onlookers also play a pivotal role when it comes to deciding fault.

In short, statements from the people present at the scene of the accident can determine the sequence of events that led to the accident.

This is a crucial part of the car insurance claims process, since it is highly likely that all parties involved in the accident, especially those who have sustained damages, would present an account most favorable to them. Witness accounts in such situations serve to corroborate the story of the claimant.

Comparative Negligence For Car Insurance Claims

This is the method of allocating appropriate fault to the different parties involved in an accident, or simply put, ‘fault sharing.’
At times, it may be impossible to put the full blame of an accident on just one party, and therefore, the percentage of guilt needs to be determined separately.

Consider this: A car moved into the fast lane, but was hit by another speeding car from behind.

While the responsibility may seem to lie with the driver who collided with the oncoming car, the other driver could be held liable for not turning the indicators on while changing lanes.

In situations like this, the fault may be shared by multiple parties – the ratio of liability is determined at 50-50, 20-80 etc., thereby making both parties accountable.

Admitting Fault

A straightforward way to determine fault after an accident is through voluntary admission of guilt; hence, it is important not to give any statements at the scene of the accident, especially in the presence of witnesses.

Statements as innocuous as ‘I’m sorry,’ or ‘I didn’t see you there’ can be used to prove someone guilty.

Who Can Be At Fault During A Car Accident?

Now that we know the car insurance claims process, we need to understand the people who can be held responsible for the accident – and no, it isn’t always the driver.

The Driver

The driver is often the first person who comes under suspicion after an accident.

It’s important to keep in mind that a person who breaks the law, or does not take necessary precautions while driving, is usually held responsible for any accident that occurs.

The Owner

If the owner of the car has employed someone to drive their vehicle for a specific purpose, then it is likely that that they – and not the driver – will be held liable.

The Employer

If the vehicle at-fault belongs to an organisation, then your claim will be directed against the employer of the driver.

Determining liability as part of the accident insurance claims process isn’t always easy, but understanding the factors listed above can help you put up a strong claim for a fair reimbursement.

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