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Who is Responsible for a Traffic Accident

Author: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 9 December 2014 | commentsComment
Accident Insurance Injury Injuries

When you're involved in a road traffic accident it's likely that you will initially be suffering from shock, whether or not you are physically injured. To add to that you've got to worry about your car insurance, who is admitting liability, and what the law demands you do in the aftermath of a collision.

Straight After a Collision

Regardless of your initial thoughts on who is to blame, don't get out of your car and start shouting and yelling at the other driver(s). Whatever the situation, it's not going to help if you lose it and all that people can remember at the scene is you going mad - it won't cast the kindest light on your situation if you end up having to go to court.

Admitting Fault

First things first, don't admit that you are to blame for the collision. Insurance companies take a dim view of people who admit liability, and even if you feel that it is your fault you shouldn't offer to take the blame at the scene. Remember that it's up to investigators to figure out what happened and who to point the finger at. You can provide the insurance company with a full statement later on and let them take the appropriate course of action.

A driver is not legally obliged to admit that they are at fault at the scene of an accident, so don't be bullied into doing so or try to force anyone else to admit liability. Of course if you do say that you were to blame and apologise for the crash, then if anyone hears you, they might be asked to stand up in court and say that you admitted liability at the scene. Remember that if you're in shock it can do funny things to you and you might say something that you don't mean, so avoid taking responsibility for anything.

Why Shouldn't I Admit Fault if I Think I am to Blame?

If the other driver is pushing you to admit fault remember that if you admit liability when you aren't to blame then you run the risk of losing any compensation you might have got from injuries sustained in the accident, and depending on the level of car insurance you have, you may end up without a car or a settlement payment.

The Other Driver Hit Me. How Can I Prove This?

Straight after the accident, look around and see if there are any bystanders. Unfortunately lots of people don't want to get involved as witnesses anymore, but you might strike lucky and find someone who saw the whole thing and who is willing to give you their contact details so that you can get in touch with them later on. If you can, it's a good idea to ask for a business card or to ask them to write out their details for you, you will probably be running on adrenalin after the accident and might get things wrong.

It's always a good idea to carry a disposable camera in your glovebox or somewhere in the car just in case you are involved in an accident. It doesn't take up much space and investigators can look at your photographs when you put in your insurance claim and may be able to tell from the position of the cars in the photograph who is most likely to be at fault.

If you suspect the other driver was on their mobile telephone or was distracted in some way, make a note of the reasons why you think this. When the insurance company are looking into it they may make the choice to contact the mobile service provider and find out if the other driver was on the phone. If you think any witnesses saw the other driver doing something that caused the crash, make sure you speak to them and get their details first.

Leave it to The Experts

Insurance companies have dedicated investigators who will look at all the evidence and make a decision based on what they can see and what they find out from their enquiries. The best thing you can do is get as much information and evidence on the accident as possible and forward it onto your insurers - it's their responsibility to decide who was at fault.

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@mrs S. State the facts, if you were turning right, the vehicle behind should not have overtaken. The insurance company usually makes reasonable judgements on cases like these.
TrafficAccidentAdvice - 10-Dec-14 @ 12:00 PM
Help I need some advice. Yesterday morning I was waiting to turn right, when traffic cleared I started to turn when all of a sudden I was hit on the drivers door. My door window smashed and door was caved in. He got out said he was turning right with me. Now hes saying ive violently swerved into him. He was coming from begin me. He said he didn't see my indicator on. Hoe can his insurance believe him. I think he was on him phone or talking to his mate didnt see I wasn't moving when he saw I was waiting panicked swerved to miss me but ive started to turn. I did see the van behind me before I set off but never thought for 1 minute he was going to try and over take me :( I very confused driver who's never made a claim help.
mrs s - 9-Dec-14 @ 9:15 PM
@kit. Unfortunately this is often what the insurers will do if they cannot establish whether one party is fully to blame or not. You could try and insist that you were not at fault - but you'd need to provide evidence to back this up for the insurance company to really take notice.
TrafficAccidentAdvice - 8-Dec-14 @ 10:34 AM
I was following a car up a residential street at about 20mph. No other cars were in the street apart from one parked on the left kerb. The driver in front of me slowed and pulled in to the left, in front of the parked car against the kerb. I assumed he was parking up. As I continued on my line having slowed to about 15mph he then pulled out across the carriageway to pull into a drive on the right without signalling left or then right. I struck his drivers door and sustained a small amount of damage to my left wing. He immediately admitted that he was not paying attention since his elderly mother was standing on the pavement and he knew he was not signalling, he apologised, saying he would pay for the damage to my car without going through the insurers. I now am being pursued for the damages, the insurers are recommending a 50/50 split. I was driving carefully with my 2 children in the car, no other witnesses were present, apart from his mother. I was in no way able to stop to avoid the collision and feel that I was not at fault. I have been driving for 25 years and never had a prang before.
kit - 5-Dec-14 @ 9:59 AM
@Hyundai. This is the kind of thing that is impossible to comment on or advise. If there were no witnesses, you will both need to give a full description to your respective insurance companies and they will make the decision based on all the facts.
TrafficAccidentAdvice - 4-Dec-14 @ 11:11 AM
@Shaun Noble. To trace the driver you may have to contact the police. You could try contacting your insurance company to see what they advise.
TrafficAccidentAdvice - 3-Dec-14 @ 2:00 PM
So, I live on a fairly main street, I was turning right from my property saw I had a clear path to turn and turned slowly when I turned another car hit my side out of no where. It was a 4wd. We both pulled over and there was no damage to her car except a slight scuff on her wheel but there was damage to the side front of my car and it will be costly to fix. She said she had right of way because she was going straight but I was half way through turning when she hit me. It was a 50 zone as well and when I turned there was a clear path to turn. I believe she was at fault. Though she is arguing it was me who was at fault. So please someone help me out. Who was at fault? There was no witnesses so it's really difficult
Hyundai - 2-Dec-14 @ 1:52 PM
I was in an indoor carpark and had stopped as a car was reversing out of s spot when a car drove into the rear of me.I got out and looked as did the other driver but it seemed like only a plastic trim had popped out which I pushed back in.And some minor scuffs which I wasn't bothered about. I said it was ok to the other driver and we both left. Upon getting home and closer inspection I found that the rear skirt/bumper was now hanging off and I am now having lower back pain from the jolt. I have the registration of the other car. Am I able to do anything
Shaun Noble - 30-Nov-14 @ 3:18 PM
@GGM. We don't have the full details here so cannot comment. But remember, one thing you learn when you start driving is never to make assumptions about another driver's intentions.
TrafficAccidentAdvice - 6-Nov-14 @ 12:39 PM
Hi was just wanting some advice. I was in an accident in a car park. I have already left my parking space and was traveling on the straight road of the car park out. I saw the other car across the car park leave their space also and head towards the junction to join the road i was already on. I didn't pay much attention to the car after that assuming the would stop till I passed and focused my concentration to the road ahead as a tight bend was coming that can only assist one car. The car then pulled out and hit my driver side front wheel arch. I automatically expected it to be resolved quite quickly through the insurance however they are still undecided on fault. Any thoughts would be much appreciated. Thanks
Ggm - 5-Nov-14 @ 1:46 PM
@Confused Individual. This will be for the insurance companies to decide. You should give all information honestly when completing the insurance forms though...omitting to say that you braked etc is foolhardy.
TrafficAccidentAdvice - 31-Oct-14 @ 2:11 PM
Hi, can someone please shed some light?a known individual has had an accident, where as she was moving lanes from right to left, she checked her mirrors indicated checked and started to move over, she noticed another vehicle which was alongside her (to the left) so she moved back into the right hand lane, the other vehicle slammed on the brakes (road wet as it had been raining) and her ABS kicked in and she collided with the individual, the other person does not want to mention that her ABS kicked in or that she broke, both cars damaged and the known individual will need both passenger front and back repainting.What needs to be done now?Any advice muchly appreciated
confusedindividual - 30-Oct-14 @ 12:53 PM
@nnutty. It was probably because the other driver complained and they thought they had better do something about it! The police would normally breath test all drivers in a serious RTC but as noone was hurt, we imagine they didn't feel the need to in this situation.
TrafficAccidentAdvice - 29-Oct-14 @ 9:30 AM
Hi the other night I was involved in a crash I was in n/s lane on a 2 lane road (a6181) came through the lights witch had turned green as I aprochedthem i pass them and 60 yards down road there's a set off lights to my left contoling traffic that cuts over the roadim on (canal rd)a car drove into side off me pushing my car to the o/s lane I rang the police and they came checked we where both legal we where he then left but came back 15 min later asked me to get in car and asked have you been drinking off course I had not gave me a berth test and passed 0 reading he was not happy about coming back and opens his widow and shouted to other driver that I was clear he then told me that the other driver or some one representing him had rang them saying i was drunk but the other driver was not given a berth test is this normal id expect both parties to be tested ?
nnutty43 - 26-Oct-14 @ 6:17 PM
@notatfault - unfortunately unless you can prove that he did not brake or deliberately set out to crash his 'works' vehicle, then it will be difficult for you without professional legal assistance.
TrafficAccidentAdvice - 24-Oct-14 @ 12:37 PM
@musia. If you had seen that the door was already partially open, there's a good argument that you should really have allowed for the door opening in its entirety. However do not let someone bully you by saying they work for a law firm if you feel you are in the right.
TrafficAccidentAdvice - 24-Oct-14 @ 11:58 AM
Thank you for the response. I believe the van driver did not attempt to brake/slow down to let me in the right hand lane. Considering we were travelling at no more than 5 mph, he could have easily had enough stopping time and I feel this is warranted by the fact he used his horn before hitting me - it was almost as if he thought 'I am in a work van and so I don't care if I hit you'. Your advice is much appreciated.
notatfault - 22-Oct-14 @ 4:30 PM
@notatfault - could the van have been in your blind spot? What isthe van driver's opinion? As we often state, this will be up to your insurance companyand/or the police to resolve. What do any of our readers think?
TrafficAccidentAdvice - 22-Oct-14 @ 2:20 PM
Morning everyone. Please give some advise i dont know what to do. Was driving this morning , vechicle parked on left hand side had her door open but not all the way. Looks like the woman was putting her child in. I decreased my speed and was tryign to go around it . Only to find the door all a sudden swang to a full open hitting my side mirror. The Mirror got cracked - which shows that wasnt driving at high speed. The lady then gave me gher mobile number. She now sent me an emailed with her insurance details but also stated how she works for a law firm and road accidents is somethgin she deals with on daily basis. and it was clear that i was at fault. I feel like i wasnt at fault as she should of been checking before she open the door further. Please can someone advise.
musia - 22-Oct-14 @ 12:09 PM
I have just been involved in a traffic accident. I was in the left hand lane in snail pace traffic. I indicated to turn into the right lane and saw there was a big enough gap. As I pulled out I was hit by a van in the rear drivers quarter. I do not believe I was at fault as I did everything by the book. I would be grateful for your advice. Thanks.
notatfault - 21-Oct-14 @ 9:45 AM
I was pulling out of a one way side street this morning. I was turning right on to the main road. Traffic was backed up from the left due to a set of lights further up the road. The cars in the queue hadn't left much space for anyone exit from the side road. There was enough room for me to get out but not at the best angle. I edged out slowly to proceed to turn right. I got so far and saw a car coming from the left so stopped. However the driver swerved and hit their front wheel on the kerb. I believe there was plenty of room to go by without hitting the kerb. Can I be held liable for damage to their tyre and wheel?
B - 21-Oct-14 @ 1:44 AM
@cath. We can't say for sure as we don't have enough detail, but from what you say it sounds like a 50/50 split on responsibility.
TrafficAccidentAdvice - 20-Oct-14 @ 11:02 AM
@magik. It's a difficult one to answer as we don't have all the details. The insurance companies do usually know what they're talking about in these cases though. It may be that they'll say if the vehicle in front of you managed to stop in time, then you should have too. Just put your case as honestly as possible and accept that the other driver will do so too.
TrafficAccidentAdvice - 20-Oct-14 @ 10:59 AM
i was behind another vehicle at traffic lights at crossroads junction. the cart in front pulled away and as i started to pull away he stopped suddenly and i just cudnt stop in time as i had just started to accelerate when he braked. the reason he braked suddenly is because a van ran a red light from right handside. the van didnt collide with him as he braked so fast but i collided ,as i said, into the back of him. it was physically impossible to stop and i was probably only going 5 miles an hour . the van driver stopped and apologised profusely fully accepting the blame, stating his insurance wont be happy . the morning after the incident he still accepts full responsibility. however my insurance company said it might be a split claim with some reponsibility on my behalf as i hit car in front. anyone know where i might stand on this as my excess is 750 pounds which means ill have to cover my own costs for repairs if it is claimed through my policy as opposed to dangerous driver.?? believe me noone cud have avoided hitting car in front as we had just pulled out?? thx in advance
magik - 17-Oct-14 @ 2:21 PM
I was reversing out of a side road slowly onto another side road. I checked behind and either side and saw nor heard anything, though its a busy road.I saw the way was clear and started moving. Unfortunately, another car opposite was also reversing out of a supermarket car parking space at the same time and our rear ends collided in the middle of the road. There is not a lot of damage to either bumpers but the other person is saying that it was my fault as she had sounded her horn three times and was stationery in the middle of the road at the time. I have an independent witness who was coming out of the supermarket at the time of the collision and heard the horn and saw both cars colliding in the middle of the road and it is their opinion that this is 50-50.Another independent witness who was on the offside road ahead and was ahead (so would have had to look back) has said they think it was my fault as the other car was stationery in the middle of teh road (when he looked!) and he heard the horn sounding. Can you advise?
Cath - 17-Oct-14 @ 12:25 PM
@annoyed. You simply have to state your case and leave this for the police and insurance companies to decide. Be sure you have included any evidence and clear statement of what happened from your point of view.
TrafficAccidentAdvice - 17-Oct-14 @ 11:50 AM
I was driving on a one lane rural road very slowly. As I rounded a corner I saw a car approaching me at a high speed. I immediately stopped and the car coming towards me was unable to stop and instead tried to go around me on the side. As it was a one lane road, there was no room on the side and the car scraped alongside my car, finally coming to a halt. As I had come to a complete stop and watched the other car unable to stop, it is clear to me it was the other driver's fault. Of course, she says it was not. What to do?
Annoyed - 16-Oct-14 @ 8:55 PM
Hi NotFare. It's not always clear who's at fault in these cases...yours certainly doesn't seem clear cut in anyone's favour!
keepingwatch - 16-Oct-14 @ 11:45 AM
I was traveling in the same direction as another car. I was in the left lane and he was in the right lane. When the road curved to the right we both went into the turn and he hit my rear passenger side just above my rear bumper with his front driver side bumper as I was passing him. He is saying I crossed into his lane and that's how he hit me. I'm saying that I was drifting to the left when I entered that turn and the whole time I was in that turn. The other drivers car drifted to the left in that turn also instead of staying in his lane and that's how he hit me.
not fare - 16-Oct-14 @ 3:49 AM
@alexcozma. There's not really sufficient detail here, it depends on whether you were pushing out onto the road in which case maybe the motorcyclist was prompted to take avoiding action. The police, insurance company will examine all the evidence and statements to determine who was at fault.
TrafficAccidentAdvice - 14-Oct-14 @ 9:58 AM
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