Re: Is the First Party Named in a Police Accident Report At Fault
It is typical practice for P-1 (Party #1) to be the party at fault. However, while typical practice this is NOT a rule nor is it indicated int he SWITRS manual which all CA law enforcement manuals must abide by for collision reporting and that the CHP revere like a Bible.
The police report will indicate the party most at fault and assign the PCF (Primary Collision Factor). Other issues might be addressed as "Associated Factors" but only one party will be declared at fault for the collision. This also means a point against that party's driver's license.
In California, as far as I know (which isnt far) the police report states who they believe is at fault. The insurance companies dont have to abide by it but it still gives a good clue as to what they will say.
And, you are correct. Insurance companies do not have to abide by the police determination of fault. They are also free to divide percentages of fault as they see fit. The police in CA cannot.
Actually ... for clarification, in CA their determination of fault IS valid insofar as the DMV is concerned, anyway. A person assigned the fault in a collision can certainly appeal that determination (and the point) to the DMV, but unless overruled by the DMV (which is very rare) the police determination of fault stands.
Now, for a civil court case, you are absolutely correct - fault will be determined by a judge.
Then they have not read the SWITRS manual. No such rule exists. They are mistaking common practice for a policy.
Pretty much true.
According the California Highway Patrol they assign blame how they see it. The officer I spoke too says he has never seen an accident were one person could not be assigned blame over others. He says that sometimes they get it wrong but that is why the courts are there to present the facts and argue the problem. He said that in every report he has written someone was assigned blame in the report, and this person was always referred to as party #1. His repsonse to me is that it is their job to determine who is at fault and present their findings.
Well ... we are allowed to make no determination of fault. It is perfectly acceptable to indicate in the report that the PCF cannot be determined. In fact, most private property collisions will NOT have a PCF assigned as no Vehicle Code is usually broken in a private property crash. Unless a narrative indication of fault can be articulated, most will not have any such PCF listed.
California is also NOT a no fault state (like Michigan), so someone will always be determined at fault
And a counter report CAN NOT have a PCF assigned pursuant to SWITRS. So those reports will not have a PCF, either.
And he'd be wrong. It is common PRACTICE, it not the law nor is it policy pursuant to SWITRS.
A Nor Cal Police Sergeant
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