Who Determines Fault in an Auto Accident

July 9th, 2020 by Attorney John Colvin

Traffic Accident

Motor vehicle accidents are a serious public safety issue in our region. Even if you are a safe, careful, and thoughtful driver, there is always a risk that you could be involved in a serious crash. According to data published by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, there were 204,772 collisions reported in the state in 2019 alone. 

In Tennessee, auto accident liability is based on fault—meaning the party or parties found to be at fault for a collision will be held responsible for the resulting damages. This raises an important question: Who decides fault for a car accident in Tennessee? Here, our Winchester car accident lawyer answers this question by providing an overview of how fault is determined in Tennessee.

Initial Report: The Police

All car accidents that result in significant property damage or a physical injury should be reported to the police. Generally, a state or local law enforcement officer will be dispatched to help control the scene of the wreck and to write an official accident report.

In the police report, the officer will record some basic observations regarding what happened and why. In some cases, a cop may even issue a traffic citation. In the accident report itself, the officer may or may not make an initial determination on fault. A police report is an important form of evidence. Though, it is not the final say on the case.

Claims Process: The Insurance Companies

Using the police report and other evidence gathered from the scene, the auto accident claim will move to the insurance companies. In dealing with insurers, you will have an opportunity to bring a case and seek financial compensation for your damages. An experienced Tennessee car accident lawyer can help you build a comprehensive, well-supported claim designed to get the best possible results. If you can establish fault and the value of your damages, your car accident claim may be settled directly by the insurance companies.

Final Arbiter: The Court

Neither police officers nor insurance adjusters get the final say on fault in any car accident case. If there is a fundamental dispute on who caused the accident, litigation may be required. When a dispute over fault persists, it is a Tennessee court that will make the final call.

Though, it is important to note that there are many steps between a car accident and the courtroom. The vast majority of auto accident claims are resolved voluntarily by the parties and their insurance carriers. Still, you should never accept an unfair finding of fault. If the insurance company refuses to cooperate, a lawyer can help you prove fault in court.

Call Our Winchester, TN Car Accident Lawyer for Help

At the Law Offices of John Colvin, our top-rated Tennessee auto accident attorney offers top quality, client-focused representation to victims and their families. If you have questions about fault for a crash, we can help. Contact our law firm today for a free, no-obligation car accident consultation. We represent auto accident victims in Winchester, Tullahoma, and throughout the surrounding region.

Licensed to Practice in Tennessee & Alabama