insure logo

Why you can trust

quality icon

Quality Verified

At, we are committed to providing the timely, accurate and expert information consumers need to make smart insurance decisions. All our content is written and reviewed by industry professionals and insurance experts. Our team carefully vets our rate data to ensure we only provide reliable and up-to-date insurance pricing. We follow the highest editorial standards. Our content is based solely on objective research and data gathering. We maintain strict editorial independence to ensure unbiased coverage of the insurance industry.

Fault in an accident refers to who is responsible or to blame for causing the collision. It’s about figuring out who didn’t follow the rules or acted in a way that led to the accident.

Determining fault involves assessing the actions and behaviors of all parties involved in the accident. Factors such as traffic laws, driving behavior, negligence, and the specific circumstances of the incident are taken into account. Fault can be assigned entirely to one party or divided among multiple parties based on their contributions to the accident.

Ways to determine fault in an auto accident

In a car accident, determining who is at fault is important for insurance claims and legal matters. To determine fault, evidence is gathered from various sources. This includes:

  • Witness Statements: Eyewitness accounts can provide valuable information about the accident.
  • Police report: Official reports filed by law enforcement officers contain important details about the accident.
  • Photos and videos: Visual evidence, such as photos or videos, can help recreate the accident scene.
  • Damage assessment: Examining the damage to each vehicle can provide clues about how the accident occurred.

How do police reports affect the determination of fault?

Police reports play a critical role in determining fault in car accidents. These reports contain the officer’s observations, statements from the parties involved, and sometimes conclusions about who violated traffic laws. Insurance companies often rely heavily on this information when assessing fault.

What role do insurance adjusters play in determining fault?

Insurance adjusters are responsible for investigating accidents and determining fault. They review evidence, including police reports, witness statements, and any available video footage. Adjusters analyze this data to establish liability according to their company’s guidelines and the laws of the state where the accident occurred.

How does fault affect my car insurance rates?

If you are found at fault in a car accident, your car insurance premiums can increase. Insurance companies view at-fault drivers as higher risks and often adjust rates accordingly to cover the perceived increase in risk. Conversely, if you are not at fault, your rates may not be affected significantly, depending on your insurance carrier’s policies.

Final thoughts

In some cases, fault cannot be determined by the drivers, police, or insurance companies, but alternative options are available. One option is arbitration, where a neutral arbiter is chosen to settle the case outside the court. The arbiter assesses the situation and determines the percentage of fault assigned to each driver.

Another option is to file a lawsuit and pursue the matter through small claims court. This allows drivers to seek compensation for damages resulting from the accident.