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Auto Accident 10.27.2021

How Fault Is Determined In a Car Accident?

When the word "fault" is used, it generally refers to the party who caused the car accident. In some accidents, fault is clearer to establish that in other accidents. For example, in the rear end car accident, fault is usually assigned to the striking vehicle. The laws of each state are used to determine who is at fault in a motor vehicle accident.  

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 6.7 million car accidents happened in the United States in 2019. Finding and assessing fault in an auto accident can be tricky. The motor vehicle accident driver’s usually fight this aspect of a collision in court if the details of the accident are in dispute.

The Joseph Dedvukaj Firm car accident expert team explains what fault the meaning of fault is, how fault is determined, and what no-fault means.

What Does “Fault” Mean In A Motor Vehicle Accident?

Generally, the word Fault refers to the party who caused the motor vehicle accident. However, in some accidents there can be more than one driver at fault. For example, if you run a red light and hit someone, you would be at fault.

Michigan has laws applicable to motor vehicles that are used to determine who is at fault in a car accident. In most auto accidents, the auto insurance company is interested in knowing who is at fault for the car accident because of the deductible applicable and damages they may be responsible to pay.
The following are some motor vehicle accident scenarios and how driver fault is assessed, and claims are handled under each circumstance:

  • 100% at fault: If a driver is found to be 100% at fault in a car accident, his or her insurance company will be responsible for paying damages.
  • 51% or more at fault: Under Michigan law, if you are partially at fault your recovery can be proportionally affected. If the accident involves two or more partially at-fault drivers then the two will share payment of damages according to the percentage of fault. In Michigan, if you are a  driver that is 51% or more at fault, then you cannot receive pain and suffering damages. However, you can receive economic damages based on the percentage fault of the other driver. For example, if one driver is determined to be 40% responsible for an auto accident, their insurance company would pay 40% of the damages.
  • 50/50 fault: If it’s not clear who was at fault, and determining fault is difficult, particularly where, it’s he said she said scenario, and no independent witnesses saw the accident take place, the parties insurance companies may decide to split fault equally between the two drivers. Or the determination of fault may come down to which driver is more credible. A common scenario is where each driver claims they had the green light.

You should contact experienced personal injury auto accident attorneys to investigate whether you were at fault for the accident. 

How Can Fault Be Determined?

Many times, determining fault can be difficult because there are multiple parties and multiple variables that contributed to the accident. The lack of independent witnesses can make it especially difficult. Generally, the parties involved in determining fault are the drivers involved, the police who investigated at the scene, and the insurance companies involved.

Car Drivers Involved In The Accident

Sometimes the drivers at the scene of the accident may agree on who is at fault. On other hand, drivers involved in an accident may accuse each other of causing the accident and deny fault. If you admit fault to a police officer, it can be used as an admission against you. If you admit fault you would have to answer damages you caused. Never admit fault for an auto accident because you may not know all of the facts. Sometimes, photographs taken at the scene  can help prove who was at fault for the motor vehicle accident. Always get name and contact information from all witnesses at the scene. Often, a good idea to exchange insurance information with the other driver and if you are able to make notes about what happened while you wait for the police to arrive.

Michigan UD-10 or Police report

If the police come to the scene after an auto accident, the police will analyze the crash scene to try to determine who is at fault. In most cases, the investigating police officer will make a crash diagram of the incident, note location of impact, debris found, and determine the extent and location of vehicle damage in the police report. The police officer’s investigation can be helpful in determining whether additional factors caused or contributed to fault such as alcohol or texting while driving. Insurance companies will require a police report be filed and rely on the police report in processing the accident claim.

Car Accident Parties Insurance Companies

After you make a claim with your car insurance company, the adjuster will decide if she will pay your claim or deny your claim. If the other party involved is the at-fault driver, your insurance company may deny payment of damages to the other driver who was at fault.

What If Fault Cannot Be Determined?

In some cases, determining fault of the drivers involved may be impossible for the police or insurance companies to find. Under this scenario, you have a couple options. You have a right to file an auto negligence lawsuit, which the judge or jury will determine who was at fault and by what percentage. The parties can also agree to have an arbitrator decide fault.
Keep in mind that in the Michigan drivers who are more than 50% at fault you cannot recover pain and suffering damages. However, the jury must decide if you are more than 50% at fault if you make a jury demand.

What Does No-fault state Mean?

Michigan is a no-fault state, so regardless of fault you can receive payment of personal injury protection (PIP) to help pay medical bills or recover wage loss benefits. You also carry residual liability coverage which would cover for damages you do to others. If you are motor vehicle driver at fault for causing the auto accident in Michigan, your residual liability insurance coverage would be responsible to pay for the other driver’s damages up to your insurance coverage limit. This is exactly why we recommend that you carry at least $250,000 in residual liability insurance coverage.
In Michigan, as a no fault insurance state, your own PIP pays out to wage loss, medical bills, household service benefits, and attendant care benefits for your auto accident related injuries regardless of fault. However, depending on which driver is at fault, the at fault driver may still be responsible for paying property damage through the property damage coverage. If can show the at fault driver caused you excess damages, which are damages not covered by PIP insurance, you may be able claim excess injury expenses against the at fault driver.

Frequently asked questions

What is a 50/50 car accident claim?

If a collision occurs when two drivers are 50/50 at fault, then the party’s insurance could share 50/50 in payment of a car accident claim. This means that each drivers insurer would pay their 50 percent share of the damages claimed up to the coverage limit.  

What is PIP medical coverage?

In Michigan, if you opted to purchase PIP coverage, your own car insurance will pay medical bills up to the applicable limit regardless of fault. We always recommend to our clients to buy unlimited PIP medical coverage. If you exceed the limit of your PIP coverage, you can claim the excess medical bills against the at fault driver. You should always contact an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney at our firm for a free car accident auto insurance benefits consultation.
What is the best car insurance company?

There is no such thing as the best car insurance company. You should be focused on having adequate insurance coverage for you and your family.  Our law firm recommends that you make sure you have the following coverages:

  • Unlimited PIP Coverage
  • Residual Liability of $250,000 or more
  • Collision Coverage
  • Property damage Coverage
  • Excess or Umbrella Coverage of $1,000,000 or more

You can compare insurance rates, but you should not compromise your coverage for a few hundred dollars. Sometimes some insurance companies offer discounts for multiple vehicles or insuring other property that makes up for the difference.

How do I file a car insurance claim?

Before you file an auto insurance claim, you should read our auto insurance claim tips. You should contact our auto insurance claim attorneys for help.


Our lawyers specialize in Michigan auto law insurance claims. We take these cases seriously to hold responsible drivers and insurance companies accountable for payment of benefits you deserve.
We understand the car accident can be complex and the law is confusing, but we have the expertise, knowledge and extensive resources to help you. Once you hire us, we won’t give up until we win compensation for you and your family.

Car accident law and insurance law is complicated, but finding the right car accident lawyer is simple. Don’t delay, start your claim today by calling 248-352-2110 or toll free at 1-866-HIRE-JOE for a free, no-obligation consultation.

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The Joseph Dedvukaj Firm, P.C represents Michigan clients in a full range of personal injury matters. If you have been injured, contact us for a free consultation.
The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute a client relationship.
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