In any personal injury claim, especially car accident claims, it’s imperative to prove the other person (the defendant) was at fault and caused the wreck and your physical injuries. In states with “contributory negligence”, if you are at fault, it could keep you from any recovery. In states with “comparative negligence”, your degree of fault will be factored into the amount you are awarded. For instance, if a judge or jury determines that you are 20% at fault for the injuries and other losses you suffered in a car accident, your monetary reward would be reduced the 20% you contributed to your injuries and losses.
An experienced personal injury lawyer who handles complex car accident claims will do everything in his power to ensure you are compensated for the losses you incurred due to someone else’s negligence even if comparative or contributory negligence comes into play.
The Role of the Car Accident Attorney
If the car accident you’ve been involved in resulted in extensive property damage, serious personal injury, or a fatality, you will need an experienced personal injury attorney to help you through the complicated legal process that will follow the accident. You and your attorney must prove the other driver’s fault to the satisfaction of the other driver’s insurance company or to a judge and jury if your claim is not settled with the insurance companies.
The goal of any insurance company is to pay out as little as possible, and that’s why personal injury attorneys are hired—to get victims the compensation they deserve to cover losses like medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, and pain and suffering. Providing detailed evidence of fault to the “other side” is how lawyers respond to a low settlement proposed by an insurance company looking to get off by paying the least amount possible. Your lawyer should advise you not to accept less than what he feels you deserve. If the insurance company won’t agree to a fair settlement, the next step will be to go to court.
Proving Who Hit Whom
The first thing you must prove if your case goes to trial is that the other driver was at fault. Typically, this involves proving that the other driver was negligent (speeding, failing to stop at a traffic light, distracted by his phone, etc). In a rare case, your lawyer may be able to prove that the other driver intended for the accident happen, but in most cases, accidents are unintentional but someone is still at fault in the eyes of the law.
There are four criteria to determine liability in a car accident claim:
- Duty of care: Drivers owe other drivers, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists a reasonable duty of care and not put others in danger.
- Breach of duty of care: The defendant must have breached the duty of care by operating the vehicle in a way that could cause harm to another person.
- Causation: The breach of the duty of care must have been the “proximate cause” of the car accident that led to the victim’s injuries.
- Damages: Demonstrable damages must have resulted by the breach in the duty of care. Damages may include current and future medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, and damage to property.
In order to prove who hit whom in a car accident, evidence will be necessary:
- Police report
- Eyewitness statements
- Video recordings
- Accident reconstruction tactics
- BAC testing
If you’ve been injured in a car accident and the other party was at fault, please contact an experienced car accident injury lawyer in your area right away to schedule a no-cost consultation.