Who Determines Fault in a Car Accident?
“It was not my fault!”
This is a common refrain after a car accident, often from every driver involved in the crash. While motorists might disagree on who was responsible, it is ultimately the opinion of the ICBC that matters the most.
It should be noted that many insurance policies will cover your injuries, even if you are at fault for the crash. The determination of the responsible party is still important, however, and can impact the amount of compensation available in your case.
If you have questions about liability following a car accident, it is best to discuss your claim with an ICBC lawyer as soon as possible. At Preszler Injury Lawyers, our team is dedicated to assisting accident victims in successfully filing a claim for benefits. To get started, schedule your free consultation right away.
How ICBC investigates a claim
The ICBC has a standard process they use when assessing fault in a car accident. Before they can make a decision, they first must collect as much relevant information as possible. The investigation process is thorough, as ICBC will work diligently to identify the at-fault party.
Determining liability typically starts with a review of the police report, if one is available. While police reports are common in collisions on roads or highways, a parking lot crash might not result in a report. The police report is a good starting point as it identifies the parties and witnesses. Often, a report will also include a diagram of the accident scene.
The ICBC adjuster will also review the damage of the insured vehicle. The nature of the damage can give important clues regarding how the accident happened. In some cases, the area of a vehicle that suffers damage could contradict the story of the other driver. The adjuster will also perform a repair estimate to determine the vehicle’s value and the cost of repairing the car.
In some cases, the ICBC will also make contact with witnesses identified in the police report. The insurance adjuster will often record these conversations and use them for leverage during negotiations. The word of an independent witness can be very powerful, as they have no interest in the outcome of the case.
How ICBC assigns fault in an accident
Once the investigation is complete, the ICBC adjuster will review all of the available evidence. In addition to the evidence collected, the ICBC will also consider other factors. First and foremost, an insurance company will review the rules of the road. If it is clear one driver violated these rules, the ICBC adjuster will likely assign fault to that party.
The ICBC adjuster will also consider court decisions that have similar fact patterns. They will rely on these decisions when making determinations of fault. Once the ICBC makes their determination, they will notify you by mail if you are found partially or fully at fault.
Why fault matters
The determination of fault is important for multiple reasons. If the ICBC designates you as responsible, the result could cost you financially. Even though the insurer might pay out on your claim, a finding of fault against you could lead to a dramatic increase in your premiums. A long history of good driving could counteract an accident, however.
If the other driver is found to be at fault, your options for compensation could increase. You will have the option to file a claim against the other driver for damages that are not available under your own policy. These include non-pecuniary damages like pain and suffering.
When you need the help of a lawyer
It can be stressful waiting for the outcome of the ICBC investigation. Thankfully, you do not have to sit idly by and hope for the best. By working with Preszler Injury Lawyers, you could ensure you put forward the strongest claim possible. Our firm is experienced in taking on these claims in order to get our clients the benefits they deserve. To discuss your claim in detail, schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer at Preszler Injury Lawyers right away.