Connect with us

Fault Determination: How It Affects Insurance Claims




You probably don’t get in your car in the morning, picturing yourself causing or being in an accident. But unfortunately, auto accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. Sometimes, human error is to blame; other times, it is circumstances beyond anyone’s control. In 2020, police reported 5.25 million crashes in the United States, resulting in injuries and death.

Even if you’ve never been in an accident, it is essential to know what to do if it does happen to you. The aftermath should include tending to the injured and taking photos for insurance purposes. At the same time, you must determine fault, establishing who is to blame for the accident. Fault determination affects your insurance claim and will impact your payout and future premiums.

Emotions tend to flare immediately after an accident, and the parties involved may point fingers at each other. Or either driver may admit to being at fault. While assigning blame this way is possible, it’s not always the case. That’s why determining fault is essential; this will help your insurance agency decide how to handle your claim.  

Understanding Fault Determination

Before filing a claim after an accident, you and the other party must agree on whose fault it was. The person to blame needs to pay for the damages, legally speaking. If more than one party is at fault, they may share the expenses. Sometimes, if the cause is clear, fault determination is done at the accident scene. In other cases, a police report or insurance company assessment will determine whose fault it was.

The fault determination process is not about pointing fingers. The goal is to fairly allocate responsibility and ensure that the at-fault person pays for damages and possible medical expenses.

The Role of Insurance Companies in Fault Determination

Sometimes, it’s easy to point out whose fault it was. One of the parties may have been drinking and driving or speeding. An investigation will typically highlight this. But, if the parties involved cannot agree on who is to blame or they each refuse to accept liability, insurance companies must step in. There are several ways they can discover who is at fault:

  • Victim Statements

 Insurance companies cannot go by victim statements alone, but when the different parties’ statements do not add up, it will become clear which side is dishonest. They will listen to each party’s version of events and compare it with the facts. If the insurance company finds one party lying about what happened, they will likely have to carry the costs.


Also, traffic laws help build a foundation for fault determination. If the insurance company finds that one or both parties violated a traffic law, it becomes easier to establish liability. These traffic laws include running a red light, ignoring a stop sign, and driving on the wrong side of the road.

  • Police Reports

In most states, police will record the incident based on witness statements. This is an unbiased report that can also help determine fault. If a car accident results in injury or death, the involved parties must report it to the police.

  • Hard Evidence

 Considering that a video or picture gets taken at any moment, the chances are high that someone will unwittingly capture footage of an accident. A picture or video can quickly prove who was at fault. Taking pictures or videos after an accident is vital to document the scene and assess the vehicle’s damage. Sometimes, surveillance cameras are in a prime position to capture accidents, and insurance companies can use this footage to help with the fault-determining process.

  • Reconstructing the Incident

If it is still unclear who to blame for the accident, the insurance provider may turn to an accident reconstruction company. Experts will look at the gathered evidence, including vehicle damage and injuries, and establish how the accident caused it. They will consider the speed at which the cars traveled, whether they braked, and which vehicle hit first. Pre-existing mechanical problems and bad weather also play a role in determining fault this way.

In addition to these factors, your insurance policy can influence fault determination.

Some policies contain clauses that affect liability distribution. This means it is imperative that you understand your coverage and how your specific policy will affect your claim should you be involved in an accident.  

The Impact of Fault Determination on Insurance Claims

The insurance company’s findings will have a profound impact on all parties’ insurance claims:

At-fault Party

If you’re at fault in an accident, your policy must pay the damages to the other vehicle and medical expenses for its occupants, if needed. Since your insurance company has to cover these expenses, you will most likely pay increased premiums in the future. The same applies if the other party is at fault.

Not-at-fault Party

If you’re not to blame but sustained injuries or damage to your vehicle, the other driver’s insurance must cover the costs. In this situation, you won’t pay increased premiums. If the at-fault driver’s insurance company refuses to pay due to a fault or compensation dispute, you may need to take your case to court.

Shared Fault

If both parties are to blame, they will share the liability costs for the accident.


This means that if you’re in an accident, and you and the other driver made errors or violated traffic laws, your respective insurance companies must cover the damages to the vehicles.


Fault determination is a crucial component of filing an insurance claim. It helps to ensure that the responsible party faces the consequences of negligence or traffic violations by fairly compensating the injured party. You must understand all the factors influencing fault determination so you don’t find yourself on the wrong side of the compensation issue. It will also help you face the complexities of insurance claims with more confidence and clarity.

Also, if you know how fault determination works, it may help you drive more cognitively. While it’s not always possible to prevent an accident, especially due to someone else’s error, you may be more observant on the roads if you know how fault determination will affect you.

Continue Reading