Interviewer: I’ve heard about fault and no-fault based auto accidents, what does that mean and how does it apply to me; and in my act if I had an accident?
Kevin Roach: Basically when you’re injured in an auto accident the police will typically show up at the scene and they’ll determine who is at fault. A lot of times, for instance, if it’s a rear-end collision, it’s pretty clear; if someone doesn’t control the front of their vehicle then they’re at fault. In other instances, a driver might be under the influence. That driver would be at fault.
Sometimes, however, you will see situations where it’s not all that clear and it could be possibly an intersection where both drivers believed they had the light, so it might be unclear in those situations.
The police report will try to determine who is at fault, and if they cannot then a lot of times they will split up the liability. They might say that driver A was 50% of the fault and then driver B was in 50% of the fault. Basically, the liability is determined by the facts. In Missouri there aren’t really no-fault accidents; it’s determined by the circumstances drawn in the accident.
Interviewer: What does one do if they were told the collision was their fault and the other guy’s insurance is calling them and the lawyers are calling them? Is the case going to be doomed from there?
Kevin Roach: Lot of times the police reports are not accurate – they might give a tentative police report. It’s just important for people when they’re involved in an auto accident in Missouri to gather as much information as possible. If they have any names of any witnesses that may have seen the accident, those can be used and police reports can be changed. I’ve handled cases where the police report indicated my client was at fault, but after you find additional witnesses they can totally change the whole liability aspect of the case.
You’re not doomed if a police officer initially indicates you’re at fault, but however the police aren’t changed very often. I think it’s a common reaction of most people when they’re involved in an accident that they don’t want to admit it was their fault or they’re just in denial. I see that a lot. The majority of the time their reports are not changed, but there are certain exceptions where if you can provide witness information or maybe we can have an investigator dig into little deeper we can find information that can change things.