skip to content
Law Handbook banner image

Determining fault and how much money to be paid

It is usually the case that both drivers are at fault to some extent. You need to be realistic about who caused the accident and any liability you yourself might have towards the damage caused.

It is recommended that you determine how much you were at fault. This could be anywhere from 0% (no fault) to 100% (total fault). There is no simple formula that can be applied and if the matter proceeds to court the court will look at all the circumstances of the accident to decide how much each side was at fault.

Contrary to what some people say, it is possible for one driver to be 100% at fault, although this is usually quite rare. Examples where this would be the case include where a driver runs into the rear of another vehicle or where a driver collides with a stationary vehicle.

The percentage of fault lets you work out how much you and the other driver (or his/her insurance company) will have to pay.

YOU WILL BE PAID THAT PERCENTAGE OF YOUR DAMAGES WHICH IS NOT YOUR FAULT BUT YOU HAVE TO PAY THAT PERCENTAGE OF THE OTHER DRIVER’S DAMAGES WHICH IS YOUR FAULT.

Example:

Driver A is held to be 50% to blame for the accident and the cost of repairs to her vehicle is $1 500.

Driver B then is also 50% to blame and the cost of his repairs is $1 000.

A is liable to B for 50% of his costs (i.e. of $1,000) = $500

B is liable to A for 50% of her costs (i.e. of $1,500) = $750

This means that in practice, B must pay $250 to A. Both drivers owe each other at least $500 so the real amount that will be paid will be any amount in excess of $500. As a result B must pay the $1,000 to repair his own vehicle in addition to $250 towards A’s damage.

Example:

Driver A is held to be 85% to blame for the accident and the cost of repairs to her vehicle is $3 000.

Driver B then is 15% to blame and the cost of his repairs is $4 500.

A is liable to B for 85% of $4 500 = $3 825

B is liable to A for 15% of $3 000 = $450

The difference between $3 825 and $450 is $3 375.

In this case, A must pay for all the damage to her vehicle as well as paying $3 375 towards B’s damage.

B will have to pay the extra $1 125 to have his vehicle repaired.

Determining fault and how much money to be paid  :  Last Revised: Thu Sep 20th 2007
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.