How Do You Know Who Is At Fault In An Accident?

Motor vehicle accidents are a common occurrence and approximately 16,000 take place every day. Motor vehicle accidents occur in a variety of ways and there is always a question as to who is responsible for the happening of the accident.

In order to prove fault, you must prove that the other driver was negligent. Negligence is determined by comparing the actions of the driver against what a reasonably prudent driver would do.

Below are some typical situations and broad guidelines for who is likely to be at fault.  Every accident has a unique set of circumstances, so the below descriptions are not always the case.  Additionally, in Pennsylvania, fault can be legally shared between the two drivers.

Rear-end Collision

The vehicle that strikes a vehicle in the rear is legally responsible almost 100% of the time. This is known as a rear-end collision. The only exceptions that sometimes apply here are if the vehicle in front is in reverse at the time of the accident or if the vehicle in front is parked in a lane of travel at the time of the accident. Even in those circumstances, it is almost always the vehicle that strikes the vehicle in the rear that bears legal responsibility.

Left Turn in Front

The second most common motor vehicle accident is what is known as a “left turn in front” accident. This is where a vehicle turns left in front of an oncoming vehicle, causing the collision. In some instances, the vehicle that is turning argues that they were “established in the intersection” and that the oncoming vehicle should have reasonably seen them. However, by and large, the vehicle that turned left in front of an oncoming vehicle is normally held legally responsible for the happening of the accident.

Improper Lane Change

A vehicle that makes an improper lane change bears legal responsibility for the happening of the accident. Typically, the vehicle will suddenly change lanes without signaling, causing a sideswipe collision or causing the vehicle in the next lane to strike them in the rear quarter panel. The investigation will confirm the location where the vehicles came into contact to determine liability.

Broadside Hit

A broadside hit is normally the result of a vehicle swerving out of its lane into the lane of another vehicle, striking it along the broadside. The vehicle that leaves its lane of travel and strikes another vehicle along the broadside bears responsibility for the accident.

Head-on Collision

Head-on collisions occur when a vehicle is waiting at an intersection to make a turn and an oncoming vehicle strikes them or where a vehicle leaves its lane of travel and enters the wrong lane of travel, causing a head-on collision. In the first circumstance, the vehicle that is traveling straight and strikes the vehicle waiting to make a turn is legally responsible for the happening of the accident. In the second scenario, the vehicle that leaves its lane of travel and begins traveling in an improper lane of travel in the wrong direction is responsible for the happening of the accident.


This is the type of accident that takes place when a vehicle disregards a steady red signal or a stop sign, entering the intersection, and striking another vehicle on the driver’s side or the passenger side. This is known as a T-bone collision. The vehicle that disregards the stop sign or steady red signal bears legal responsibility for the happening of this accident.

The above are the most common circumstances under which motor vehicle accidents take place. If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident and there is a question of liability, you should contact a personal injury lawyer today and schedule a consultation so that your rights and remedies may be explained to you and your interests best represented.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been in a car accident that was not your fault and have sustained any type of property damage or injury, you should strongly consider contacting an attorney like The Pearce Law Firm, Personal Injury and Accident Lawyers, P.C.. If you have to file a claim, neither your insurance company nor the insurance company of the other party will be looking out for the best settlement. Instead, they will be looking for best way to save money, and that often results in accepting a smaller claim outside of court. We will look out for your best interests and help you fight for the settlement that you deserve.