Who's to blame - Car crashes

Who is at fault?

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Factors that may impact on who is to blame:

  • Were any traffic rules broken, for example, failing to stop at a stop sign, speeding, or using a mobile phone?
  • Were all cars road worthy?
  • Had a driver consumed alcohol or drugs?
  • Was a driver distracted or tired?
  • Was a driver following too closely behind another car (tailgating)?

After an accident  it needs to be decided who is to blame, or who is at fault. The person who is at fault is the one who caused the accident.


  • a driver at fault may not be the one who ends up paying for the damage
  • more than one driver is at fault 
  • someone not involved in the accident may be responsible
  • no one may be at fault (for example, an animal running across the road caused an unavoidable accident)
  • it is difficult to work out who is responsible for paying the cost of repairing your vehicle (for example, the person driving a taxi, bus or truck was not the owner or insured).

If you or the other driver were driving for work, your employer or their employer may have to cover the costs of the accident.

If you have an accident with an animal, you may be able to make a claim against the owner. Or you may have responsibilities towards the animal or the animal's owner.

The owner of a hire car is not usually responsible for the damage caused by the driver of that car.

You should get legal advice if it is not clear who is responsible in your accident.

Useful documents


The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.