Accident without ticket can still be your fault

Written by Penny Gusner on January 7, 2014 & Posted in Auto Insurance

Accidents happen; that is the main reason you have car insurance, after all. But what happens when neither driver is ticketed for a traffic violation that caused the accident? How is fault determined?

Some motorists mistakenly believe both drivers are off the hook for the other party's damage if no one receives a citation. Not true.

A lot of accidents result in no tickets being written. It may be because the police officer didn't feel like making a driver's bad day worse and didn't issue a ticket, or that law enforcement officers were too busy to show up at the scene and the drivers only exchanged information and went their separate ways.

Even if a driver is cited by a responding officer, the motorist may get the charge reduced, or whole ticket dismissed. This doesn't mean no one is responsible for the auto accident.

It does, however, help explain why car insurance companies may ask if any citations were written for moving violations at the accident scene, but don't assign fault based solely on traffic tickets.

Car insurance companies look at all the available evidence and make a determination of fault. And even if one driver were cited at the accident scene and a police officer placed the claim squarely on one drive,r the auto insurance companies involved may disagree and find a different driver at fault or that both drivers are partially responsible.

Insurance companies assign trained claims adjusters to investigate claims and determine fault. The adjuster will be aware of the state's negligent laws and auto insurance company's fault guidelines.

Each state has contributory or comparative negligent laws so that fault can be shared by drivers. Depending upon which negligent law your state has in place -- and how much you're found at fault -- you could get all, some or none of your vehicle's damages covered by the other party. The same holds true for the other driver if he or she places a claim against your policy.

To decide where fault lays, claims adjusters will normally speak to all drivers involved, contact any witnesses to the accident and view the damaged vehicles. The car insurance company's final determination of fault may be completely different from a crash report made out by the police or appear contrary to any tickets written, but the insurer should be able to back up its decision if questioned.


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