Car accidents are stressful experiences. The sudden force of the collision can be traumatic for many people, especially if they suffered injuries in the crash. The stress rarely ends after a crash either — court officials or insurance adjusters must determine who was at fault for the accident, a long and contentious process.

Thankfully, only about 2% of car accident cases end up in court. Depending on the severity of the accident, state laws governing car insurance and the insurance carrier’s personality, a few different methods can help determine fault.

5 methods used to determine fault

Courts do not always determine fault in a car accident. Five different methods help drivers and insurers determine who is to blame:

  1. Admitting fault at the scene: In the immediate aftermath of an accident, tension and stress can cause drivers to make unfortunate decisions, like admit fault. If a driver admits ignoring a stop sign or failing to signal while discussing the accident with others involved, they may be liable for the accident.
  2. The police report: The police can also determine fault through their police report. Minor accidents do not always require a police report, but all insurers do. Many reports will include conclusive evidence of fault.
  3. Insurance investigation: Some accidents require the involvement of each driver’s insurance companies. These organizations will send adjusters to investigate the accident, interview participants and determine the outcome. If carriers cannot agree, the determination will move to arbitration.
  4. Arbitration: Many contested claims will go to arbitration by a third party. Many insurance companies rely on these arbitration organizations to determine fault quickly, equitably and without bias.
  5. Jury decision: Some contested claims will end up in the courtroom where a jury will determine fault. Each side will hire lawyers, present arguments and evidence, and leave the decision up to a jury of peers. Even the Supreme Court cannot overturn a jury decision.

Injured in a car accident? Legal protections are available

Determining fault in a car accident is a long and confusing process. Those with questions about their accident can find answers from a local attorney familiar with Illinois motor vehicle laws.