How do you determine who was at fault for an accident?

I was in the parking lot at my daughter’s school. Another car was passing on the right to get around our car but it should have waited for us to get out of the way. My daughter opened her car door and scratched his car. No police were called. The driver said we could pay to buff out the scratch and that would be OK. Who was at fault? Is he at fault for pulling out behind me to get around our car or my daughter for opening her car door into his car?

Asked on August 19, 2014 under Accident Law, Arizona


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

There is no hard and fast answer, and the answer is also not binary--that is, both can be at fault in various degrees. "Fault" in this case is based on negligence, which is being unreasonably careless--that is, being less careful than the hypothetical reasonable person. And often, as may the case hear, both people were at fault: the other driver should have waited for you to move (unless you looked like you were parked/stopped for awhile; then it is reasonable to tryy to go around you), but your daughter should also have looked before opening her door.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.