In New York, the police determine who is at fault after a car accident. To do this, they need to know the cause behind the crash. Most accidents actually involve many factors. The following are just a few of the most common causes.

First is human error or negligence. Drivers may become distracted behind the wheel — calling, texting or using the navigation system. Activities like eating, drinking, using makeup and talking with noisy kids in the car can also take one’s attention from the road. Some drivers may become negligent because they are lost or they follow the road rules of another state (for example, making a right turn on red is not allowed in all states).

Driving under the influence, whether of drugs, prescription drugs or alcohol, is another frequent cause of crashes. Even some over-the-counter medicines can cloud the mind and contribute to human error. Crashes are sometimes caused when drivers have uncontrollable medical episodes like stroke and heart attack. Drowsy driving falls under this category, too.

Other crashes may be caused by something other than the driver, such as a burnt-out traffic light or an animal crossing the road. However, some such issues can still be attributed to driver negligence, such as bad brakes, bald tires and other signs of a poorly maintained vehicle.

If the accident investigation shows that an accident victim was not at fault, legal action may be warranted. A claims payment can often cover losses like medical expenses, future rehabilitative care, vehicle damage, lost wages and a diminished capacity to earn a living. This is where a lawyer can ideally come in and determine the maximum amount possible for a settlement. The victim could have their lawyer negotiate for that settlement, litigating as a last resort.