As any Jacksonville car accident lawyer will tell you, deciding who was at fault after an accident has occurred is not always a simple task. It usually involves the police, insurance adjusters and sometimes the courts.
When a car accident has been reported to the police, the officers are required to submit a report about what occurred. Normally they will speak to any witnesses, if there are any available, and ask them questions as a way of piecing together what happened. After they have enough information they then submit their report to the department. At times their report may state who they feel was at fault based on their experience and professional judgment.
However, it is important to remember even if someone is issued a citation and the officer indicates who they believe to be at fault that does not mean that they would be automatically liable if it were to go to court.
After the accident there is usually a claim filed with the insurance company who then will assign the case to an adjustor. Normally there will be two adjusters, one for each driver’s insurance company who will also speak with the drivers and any witnesses to the accident. They will examine the damage to both vehicles; speak with doctors and read medical reports if there were any injuries. It is the adjusters who normally decide who was at fault; at times they will assign a certain percentage of the fault to each driver and payment will be made accordingly.
However, if a lawsuit is filed by a driver seeking to recover expenses for damage or injuries, then the court decides who was at fault by considering whether or not the defendant was indeed negligent. This is done by hearing arguments from both attorneys and considering any evidence that they may present. They may also consider testimony from the driver’s, any witnesses to the accident and the police officers who were responsible for investigating the accident. At times they will bring in doctors or even accident reconstruction experts.
After all witnesses and evidence has been presented to the judge, or jury if one was requested, they must determine who was at fault. If they find that the defendant was negligent they must pay you compensation for any injuries or other losses you may have experienced.
If you are going to court over an accident, whether as the defendant or plaintiff it is always a good idea to consult a Jacksonville car accident lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected.