December 11, 2010

Ways In Which Auto Insurance Companies Determine Fault For Accidents

When insurance companies are called to the scene of an accident, they use police reports as tools to help them determine who is at fault. It is important to understand how they finalize their decisions because their verdicts may affect your auto insurance rates.

When adjusters come to inspect an accident, they are applying the concept of negligence to determine who is at fault. Negligence is a tort or civil wrong that is committed against you. When you have been wronged you can go to a civil court to seek compensation but the key to a tort is that there is no intent to harm. Because no party was intending to harm the other, a strict format is followed to determine fault.

When both drivers are insured, the insurance companies will work together to determine fault. They do this by ascribing percentages of fault to each driver. There are several steps that insurance companies have to follow in order to arrive at these percentages. The four elements they look at are causation, breaches, duties, and damages. If even one component is missing then the driver is not at fault. If each is present then the driver is at fault but the amount still needs to be determined.

There are three duties that will be reviewed by insurance companies; following the rules of the road, avoidance and lookout. Lookout is rather self explanatory meaning that you were as aware as possible of what was happening when the accident took place. Avoidance meant you took every reasonable step possible to avoid the accident. Just because another driver has done something illegal does not necessarily place them at fault if they are in an accident, both drivers have to attempt to avoid the accident. That of course doesn't mean you're off the hook if someone didn't avoid you while you were breaking a law. That falls under following the rules of the road and you're at fault percentage will rise because of it and may cause your auto insurance rates to rise.

Causation then follows this. The definition of causation is the relationship between the ultimate damages done and the duty breached. Causation must be shown every time and it cannot be presumed. Then there are damages. These exist as either bodily injury or property damage. Only damages related to the duty breach may be taken into account when being reviewed by the auditors of an insurance company.

When all of these have been accumulated and taken into account, the insurance companies will work together to determine what a fair outcome will be for both parties. The negotiations are usually swift and both parties get on with their lives.