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How do you prove fault after a car accident in California?

Many car accidents in California involve fault. However, it’s not always easy to prove which party was at fault, or negligent, for the collision.

Oftentimes, each driver has his or her own account of what happened. Even if both parties agree on who was at fault, insurance companies often want proof.

In order to prove fault in a car accident case, there are several sources of evidence that can be used.

First is the police report. If police were called to the scene of the accident, chances are that the officer filled out an incident or police report detailing what happened, including whether any tickets were issued and the officer’s opinion on who was at fault.

Insurance companies often require a copy of the official police report before issuing a car accident liability report.

Another great source of evidence is state law. Sometimes drivers may not know who was at fault for an accident until they have taken a look at the traffic laws. In California, this information can be found in the California Vehicle Code.

Next is a description of the damage. Sometimes, all it takes is a description of the damage caused in an accident to determine who was at fault.

For example, rear end accidents are extremely common in California and elsewhere, and the car that was hit from behind is almost never at fault. Additionally, left turn collisions are almost always caused by the driver who was taking the left turn.

Because fault is pretty self-explanatory in both of these scenarios, evidence of the damage sustained to both vehicles would be very helpful. This is another reason why it’s a good idea to take pictures at the accident scene, whenever possible.

Even with this evidence on your side, attempting to negotiate a fair  settlement with your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company is often difficult, which is why many California residents depend on an experienced personal injury lawyer to get the compensation they deserve.

Source: Findlaw.com, “Car Accident Liability: Proving Fault in a Car Crash,” June 2, 2014

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