Some car accidents are the result of one driver’s clear negligence. Others involve several circumstances that make fault more difficult to establish. Moreover, the different parties assessing an accident have different ways of determining fault. There are significant differences between how police officers, insurance companies, and courts determine car accident fault. Albany auto accident lawyers are aware of these differences. They always take them into account when reviewing a case and making recommendations to their clients. We will review them in the following lines.
How Police Officers Determine Fault in an Albany Auto Accident
Drivers have the obligation of reporting accidents involving injuries and/or damages of over $500, according to GA Code Title 40 Chapter 9. When they do, a law enforcement officer will likely come to the scene to investigate and file an accident report.
They will check the accident scene and interview drivers and any witnesses to get an idea of how the accident occurred. They may request breathalyzer or blood tests to determine if any of the drivers were intoxicated.
When they decide that they have enough information, they will prepare and submit their report. Sometimes, the report clearly identifies the party at fault. Other times, it only details the police officer’s findings and observations.
The report itself can be useful for establishing accident fault. However, it can also be challenged. An experienced Albany car accident lawyer will pay special attention to traffic citations. They represent evidence that the party receiving them violated traffic laws and, therefore, acted negligently or intentionally.
How Insurers Determine Albany Auto Accident Fault
Once an insurance company receives a car accident claim, they assign it to an adjuster. The latter will conduct their own investigation of the accident to determine fault, evaluate losses, and try to settle. If several insurance companies are involved, each will appoint their own adjuster.
The insurers’ obvious interest is to limit their own losses. They will conduct their own investigations on how the accident occurred. However, their focus will be on shifting accident fault from their client to the other parties involved. After all, every fault percentage they attribute to another party means less money out of their pockets.
Based on their findings, they will draft settlement offers and submit them to the claimants. If the claimants accept them, the case settles, the insurance company pays, and the parties move on with their lives. If the claimant does not accept the settlement, further negotiations may take place.
Sometimes, insurers deny claims or try to settle them for far less than the claimant requested. When that happens, the claimant can complain to the Georgia Department of Insurance. They may also sue the insurer for bad faith, or sue the party at fault directly.
How Georgia Courts Determine Car Accident Fault
Georgia civil courts determine fault by analyzing the evidence the parties present. Under Georgia law, in civil cases, the burden of proof falls on the plaintiff. The latter has to prove not only the negligence and/or wrongdoings of the defendant, but also the losses they incurred.
The defendant has to right to answer to the accusations and the plaintiff’s claims by presenting their own evidence. Common examples of liability evidence presented during a court trial include:
- The police accident report
- Video recordings from the accident scene or from the dashboard cameras of the vehicles involved in the accident
- Accident scene photos
- Testimonies of the witnesses and of the parties involved
- Driver blood test reports
- Technical expertise of the vehicles involved in the accident
- Driving records, when relevant to the case (a history of accidents, traffic citations, license suspensions, or driving intoxicated)
- Expert testimonies
The court will review all the evidence presented, hear witnesses and experts, and draw its own conclusions. Since some of the evidence can be dismantled, some witnesses may be discredited, and some data is subject to interpretation, court trials often become battles of attorneys.
Let an Experienced Albany Auto Accident Attorney Help You Prove Fault for Your Accident
Now you have a better understanding of how fault is determined in Georgia car accidents. You hopefully realize that it is up to you to prove to the insurance company or to the court that you were the victims and you deserve the compensation you request.
The easiest way to do that is with the help of an experienced Albany auto accident lawyer. They will help you gather the necessary evidence, dismantle any evidence the defendant may have against you, and get you the compensation you deserve.
At Joe Durham Jr. P.C., we have done this hundreds of times for our clients and can do the same for you. Call our office and make an appointment with one of our Georgia car accident lawyers. The first consultation is free, so you have nothing to lose!