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It’s the Other Guy’s Fault

In most accidents, someone is at fault. The hard part is figuring out who that is in some cases.

“It’s one thing to be in an accident but quite another when you then have to argue with someone else over ‘who’ was at fault in the first place. I see this a great deal in auto accidents and motorcycle collisions,” said Stephen M. Ozcomert who handles personal injury cases, accidents, and malpractice law in Atlanta, Georgia.

In some cases, it will be painfully evident who caused the accident; in others, it may take a long time before the facts come to light to apportion blame. And yes, there are certainly some cases where both parties are to blame. No two accidents are ever alike, despite the fact they may look alike on the surface. “There’s something that a lot of people don’t realize about accidents. It’s not the police who determine who is at fault; it’s the insurance company after you file a claim. They use police information to decide who is at fault,” explained Ozcomert.

Many accidents involve just two vehicles; others are multi-vehicle chain collisions and every party involved in that would need to file their own separate claims. Once the claims hit the insurance company, it’s time to figure out fault and start assessing the damages. In most instances, fault is calculated by percentages and the negligence of the driver(s).

“There are four things used to figure out negligence: driver’s duties, the cause of the accident, breaches in the driver’s duties and the negligence of the driver(s). Sounds rather complicated, doesn’t it? Interestingly enough, every insurance company has their own way of arriving at a final fault percentage to assign to drivers,” Ozcomert remarked.

One really clear sign that someone was at fault is if one driver, or both of them, were breaking the rules while driving. Despite that method of determining fault, just because one driver was clearly in the wrong doesn’t mean the other driver was paying attention and if they had been driving defensively, could have avoided the accident or mitigated damages. Needless to say cases like that, where two drivers are ostensibly at fault, are nightmares for opposing insurance companies to sort out.
“If you throw DUI into this mix, that’s a problem as well. Witness statements may not be of much use, which leaves the insurance company relying on the police report – if one is filed. Don’t expect action on your claim to happen overnight, as it usually takes weeks or months. If you haven’t spoken to an experienced attorney about your accident, you might want to think about doing that quickly. Having a lawyer on your side usually speeds things up,” added Ozcomert. It’s always a smart move to find out what your rights are when it comes to auto accidents.

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