How do I find out who is OFFICIALLY responsible for a particular accident?

The police reported that a motorist was at fault for failure to yield for
bicyclist while making a left turn at an intersection. The insurance company says
that bicycle was going too fast through intersection according to eye-witnesses.
We had to rent a car for two weeks or so and I need to know who is going to pay
for the rental car? The bicycle damaged the family car while my wife and daughter
were sitting at the intersection waiting. Should I contact police AGAIN so I do
not take the wrong person to court?

Asked on October 18, 2017 under Accident Law, Iowa


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No one is "officially" responsible until and unless there is a lawsuit and the court determines responsibility. The police's opinion, or the insurance company's, are just that: opinions. They may be persuasive (e.g. a police report  and a police officer's testimony is often good evidence), but they are not dispositive. Sue the person(s) whom you believe were at fault: if you are not 100% sure, sue everyone else involved in the accident who *may* have been at fault: during the litigation, evidence should develop to pin down fault, and you can also let the defendants fight among themselves to prove that the other guy was at fault.

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