Insurance companies determine who is at fault in a car accident by reviewing all available evidence after a crash. Evidence can include elements such as electronic data, photos, witness statements and police reports. Insurance adjusters then assign a percentage of fault to each driver. Depending upon fault and the type of car insurance you carry, it may be possible to seek compensation for your losses.
Does the Police Report Show Who Is At Fault?
According to New Jersey law, anyone involved in an auto accident that results in more than $500 in property damage or any injury must report the accident to police. If the police aren’t called to the scene or don’t show up, drivers can file a self-reported accident form. Either way, a police report is essential to your car accident claim. While the report may point out who they believe is liable for the accident, the insurance company will make their own determinations.
After a car accident, it's a good idea to request a copy of the police report for review. You may be able to correct any errors or point out inaccuracies.
How Fault Is Determined in a Car Accident
Insurance adjusters examine all of the evidence at hand to determine fault in an accident. Each case is assigned an insurance adjuster who will examine your claim by reviewing whatever information may be available and then contacting you for more information and evidence, such as police reports, witness contact information, electronic evidence and medical bills.
One of the first steps an insurance adjuster will take to gather evidence is to conduct an interview with you, other victims and witnesses. These first interviews can be used against your claim down the road and it’s important to be clear-headed and prepared before the interview.
While you do have to give an interview to your car insurance company, you are not required to immediately do so. It’s always prudent to first recover, then consult an attorney to discuss your case and options before proceeding.
No-Fault Insurance and PIP
Unlike Connecticut, New Jersey and New York are both no-fault insurance states. In states with this type of car insurance law, drivers involved in an accident would first utilize their own insurance coverage -- regardless of who is at fault in the accident. New Jersey and New York drivers are required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, which would compensate you for medical bills and lost wages due to an injury accident.
In the event the other driver is found to be at-fault, it may then be possible to file a claim with the at fault party’s insurer to cover damages that exceed the amount of your PIP coverage.
It is fairly common that more than one driver made a mistake and caused the accident. For example, one driver may be speeding while another driver rolls through a red light. Both drivers’ actions contribute to the crash. In this case, an insurance company determines to what extent each party is liable and assigns a percentage. This is called comparative negligence.
Under New Jersey's insurance law, the monetary compensation or damages you can receive are reduced by the percentage that you are at fault. For example, if you were considered 10% at fault and your damage was $10,000, you could receive $9000 from the other driver's insurance company. Of note, if you are found more liable for the accident than the other driver (i.e. more than 50% your fault), you will receive no financial compensation.
Get a Free Case Evaluation Now
Pursuing a legal claim for a car accident may seem like a daunting task but we encourage you to consider allowing our team of attorneys at Brandon J Broderick to help you through the process. Even if a car accident was partly your fault, without a legal claim, the insurance company can offer you a lowball offer that barely covers any of your needs and may even refuse to cover some of the damages. You may be left having to pay for the costs of your injuries on your own. Contact us today and let us turn your setback into a comeback.