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Do you need a police report to prove fault in a traffic accident?

Determining who is at fault for a traffic accident is generally a matter of identifying who was careless, or negligent, in a particular situation. In some traffic accidents, it is easy to tell which party acted negligently and is, therefore, at fault. In other cases, determining who is at fault will require a more in depth analysis of the facts and circumstances of the accident. In those cases requiring more in depth analysis, you will make a stronger argument if your can support your case with evidence.

If the police respond to the scene and take a report, it will likely include the officer’s conclusion as to who caused the accident. The officer may conclude that someone violated a specific traffic law and that the violation caused the accident. In some cases, the officer may issue a traffic citation for this violation. An officer’s conclusion of fault can be helpful, but a police report is not always necessary to prove fault.

In some cases, the other driver’s fault is presumed. For example, if someone hits you from behind, it is hard to see how that could be your fault, regardless why you stopped. In California, the law requires all drivers to drive a reasonable speed and maintain a reasonable distance from the car ahead. If you braked (assuming your brakes lights were working properly) and the other driver could not stop in time, it is likely the other driver was going too fast or following too closely or both. In that case, the lack of a police report is unlikely to be a problem.

Another place to look to prove fault is the California Driver Handbook. The handbook is published by California DMV and is available online here. The handbook provides a summary of the laws and regulations outlined in the California Vehicle Code. The handbook is a practical, plain language guide to the rules of the road and practices for safe driving.

If you or someone you care about has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, educate yourself about your rights and get the compensation you deserve. Call today to speak to me about your rights.

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