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How Is Fault Determined In A Car Accident In NY?

car crash accident. Car collision on city street. Two damaged automobiles

Who determines fault in a car accident? Insurance adjusters like to think they do. However, what might matter most in your claim – where the jury’s opinion is concerned – is the police report. It can make or break your claim as to the determination of fault following an MVA (motor vehicle accident). It’s a good bet that the finger of blame will be pointed at you by the other person’s insurance adjuster.

Even if you sustain life-changing injuries, but you can’t prove the other driver is at fault, your insurance claim may not be valid. Why is this important? The other party’s damages will be paid for by the liable party – whoever is at fault.

To decide liability and fault in a car accident claim, there are several layers involved:

  • A trial jury
  • The investigating police officer
  • The insurance company

When it comes to determining fault, the last word does not belong to the insurance adjuster. To help resolve the entire situation in your favor, you have options. Your best bet is to immediately hire a competent personal injury attorney experienced in automobile accident cases.

Determining Fault – The Police Department

Responding police officers frequently play a large part in determining fault in a car accident. This can include State Highway Patrol, Sheriff’s deputy, or city police. If you don’t call the police following your accident, you could be missing a critical piece of support for your case.

Law enforcement officers are unbiased and credible. Where car accident investigations are concerned, they’re specifically trained. What kind of information, specifically, might a police officer provide that could help determine liability?

  • Who was at fault for the crash may actually be determined by an officer if the facts allow.
  • The officer may issue a ticket if either of the drivers violated traffic laws.

Within a week to 10 days, the accident report will likely be available. Pick it up as soon as you can and provide it to your attorney.

Determining Fault – Insurance Adjusters

Each person’s insurance company must be notified following a car accident. In some states (where no-fault insurance is in effect) you may have to turn to your own PIP insurance policy coverage first (personal injury protection).

Once you make claims against the other person’s insurance company, the company assigns a claims adjuster. They will review the following to determine fault:

  • Pictures, witness statements, and any other available evidence
  • The accident report from the responding police officer

Whether or not the amount of your claim will be paid by the insurance company may be decided by one person. Remember that if you speak to an insurance adjuster – which you should never do – your statement is likely going to be recorded. Before you make any comments to anyone, talk to your lawyer.

Immediately Hire a Personal Injury Attorney After an MVA

Even if an insurance company tries to place the blame on you, your attorney may be able to fight back in a manner that assures your success.

Should your case go to a judge and/or jury, your attorney will be invaluable. The courts are no place for amateurs. Don’t hesitate another moment to hire an experienced attorney if you’ve been in a motor vehicle accident. Talk to the professionals at Pazer, Epstein, Jaffe, and Fein, P.C., as soon as possible.

Contact us using our convenient online form or feel free to phone us in New York at 212-227-1212, or in Huntington/Long Island at 631-864-2429.

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