Davis Injury Lawyers, PLLC | How to Determine Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident - Davis Injury Lawyers, PLLC
Detroit Personal Injury Blog

How to Determine Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident

Get Help Now. Dial Davis.
September 28th, 2022
Two vehicles smashed face first into each other

While Michigan requires drivers to have no-fault insurance that covers damages regardless of who caused an accident, you still must determine fault. You may need to file a personal injury lawsuit to cover losses above what your no-fault policy will cover.

One of the main challenges in a car accident lawsuit is proving who is at fault. Once you establish the other driver caused the accident, you hold them financially liable and get compensation from them to cover your damages.

What Are Michigan’s Fault Laws?

Michigan is a no-fault insurance state. That means you must have car insurance that covers many of your damages regardless of who is at fault for your accident.

However, Michigan’s no-fault laws do not prohibit you from filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. A lawsuit helps you get compensation for expenses that are not covered by your no-fault insurance policy.

According to Michigan Complied Laws (MCL) 500.3101, all motor vehicle owners or registrants in Michigan must have the following:

  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP) – This pays for your reasonably necessary medical expenses and up to 85% of your lost income.
  • Property Protection Insurance (PPI) – This pays for up to $1 million for damage that your vehicle does to other people’s property, such as a building, fence, or parked car.
  • Residual Liability Insurance (RLI) – This is bodily injury and property damage insurance that protects you if you are sued by someone else.

No matter who is at fault, your PIP and PPI insurance cover your losses and damage by your car. RLI will cover you if you are sued due to a car accident and you are found to be legally responsible.

If someone else is at fault in your car accident, you can also sue them in a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages above and beyond what your insurance may have caused. However, there are limitations on when you can sue someone after a car accident in Michigan.

How Does Negligence Determine Fault?

In most cases, the person at fault has acted negligently. Negligence is a legal theory meaning that the person did not act in a way that a reasonable person would under the same circumstances.

Once you establish that the other driver was negligent, you can prove that negligence led to the accident. Therefore, they are at fault.

There are four elements to prove negligence:

  1. The other driver had a legal duty.
  2. The other driver breached that duty.
  3. The breach of duty caused the car accident.
  4. You suffered damages because of the car accident.

All drivers must obey the law. For example, a driver has a legal duty to stop at a stop sign. If they fail to stop, that driver breaches their legal responsibility. A driver’s actions of running the stop sign may cause a car accident.

If the driver who was not negligent is injured and suffers property damage, they have damages that are directly related to the car accident. The negligent driver is at fault and can be held financially liable for the damages sustained by the other driver.

What Evidence Do You Need to Establish Fault in Detroit?

When establishing who is at fault in a Detroit car accident, you must have solid evidence of the other party’s negligence. That will require information from the scene of the accident and expert opinions about what happened.

Photos & Videos

It is vital to capture photographs and video of the accident scene as soon as possible after the wreck. Ask a bystander to do it for you if you can’t take pictures and videos.

Make sure you include nearby signs, marks on the road, and any traffic signals and cameras. Your personal injury attorney and experts will use these images to determine who is at fault and how to prove negligence in your case.

Witness Testimony

Your attorney will likely get informal statements from any passengers and bystanders quickly. Their immediate recollection of the events before, during, and after the crash is essential to your case.

However, eyewitnesses will also be deposed during formal questioning under oath if you file a personal injury lawsuit. This will provide evidence to support your claims about what happened in the crash.

Expert Witnesses

Many car accidents are complex and cause severe injuries. Expert witnesses can be used to determine what caused the crash, who is at fault, and how much money you should recover from the at-fault party.

Your car accident attorney can use many experts, including mechanics, engineers, economists, and medical professionals. All these individuals contribute to the reliability of your arguments in a car accident claim.

Police Reports

It is mandatory in most states, including Michigan, to file a car accident report in nearly every car accident. The easiest way is to call the police and have an officer create a police report. The police officer will interview everyone who was involved in the wreck, as well as eyewitnesses. They will gather other information and piece together what happened during the wreck.

In some cases, the police officer may issue a traffic violation ticket to the driver who violated the law. This is often the person who was negligent and caused the accident. However, in some cases, the violation may not have contributed to the wreck, or both parties are partially at fault.

The police report may contain a statement about who caused the car accident based on their professional judgment. However, that is not an official determination of fault. The police report does not automatically establish who is legally responsible or liable for damages in a car accident.

How Can an Accident Reconstructionist Help?

An accident reconstructionist is an expert who can review all the evidence from a car accident and recreate what happened at the scene. In most cases, this allows you to prove which party was negligent and caused the wreck.

If there is any question about who is at fault, you should work with an accident reconstructionist who can help determine liability.

Can the Location of the Damage Determine Fault?

The location of the damage on each vehicle can be used to determine which driver is at fault for the entire accident. For example, if a vehicle’s rear end is damaged, the driver who hit that vehicle is most likely to be at fault.

Many insurance companies assume that if a person rear-ended another driver, they were following too closely or otherwise driving negligently in some way.

Davis Injury Lawyers Can Help You Prove Fault in a Car Accident

You must prove which party was at fault in a car accident. You may not recover compensation for all your damages if you don’t. An experienced car accident lawyer in Detroit can conduct an independent investigation, review the police report, interview witnesses, and work with experts to determine who is at fault in your wreck.

The Detroit car accident attorneys at Davis Injury Lawyers are ready to start working on your case today. Call us at 313-462-7979 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.