If you have been injured in an accident and the other driver was at fault, establishing liability will be a crucial element in your car accident case to receive compensation. In some cases, it can be very easy to prove the other driver was at fault, but some accident cases are complex and fault may be difficult to establish. This is one area in which an experienced personal injury attorney in Los Angeles can help.
The following are some of the most important areas to focus to prove fault in a car accident.
It’s important to contact the police and have them write an accident report. The police report is one of the most important pieces of evidence to present to the insurance company and use in negotiations as it’s a detailed written recollection of the officer who responded to the accident. These reports often contain evidence about liability in the police officer’s opinion. In many cases, this report will include the officer’s observations and opinion as to who was at fault for the accident and how they believe the collision occurred. Sometimes a police report will also mention a specific traffic citation the other driver received or that the driver was being reckless. Ask for a copy of the police report as your attorney will use it to build your claim.
Location of the Damage
How and where the vehicles were damaged can become valuable evidence in a car accident case. The location of the damage is most important in proving liability in T-bone or broadside collisions, but it’s also valuable evidence in other cases. For example, if a driver runs a read light, they will often broadside another car because the driver who is not at fault was simply proceeding through the intersection with the green light when the other river ran the red light. In this case, damage is usually to the negligent driver’s front side and the innocent driver’s side.
“No Doubt Liability
“No-doubt liability” often enters into car accident cases as the driver who rear-ends another is almost always assumed to be at fault for following too closely. If someone strikes your car from behind, it is almost never your fault, no matter why you stopped, because drivers have a duty to maintain a distance that allows them to stop safely if traffic ahead of them stops. Just keep in mind that you may share some liability in the accident under the “comparative negligence” rule if your own carelessness contributed to the accident, such as having a brake light that went out.
This concept also applies to intersection accidents in which one vehicle was making a left-hand turn. The driver making a left turn at an intersection is generally assumed to be at fault when the accident involves a car going straight unless the other vehicle ran a red light or was speeding.
Witness Statements and Photos
After your accident, it’s important to gather as much evidence as you can when you are able to do so safely. Get contact information and statements from any witnesses on the scene and take as many pictures as you can of the scene of the accident before valuable evidence is moved or destroyed. Be sure you take pictures of your injuries, the damage to both vehicles, any skid marks or damage to property, the relation of the vehicles on the road, and any conditions that may have contributed to the accident.
California traffic code can also help you find evidence to support that the other driver was at fault for the accident. As an example, traffic laws typically indicate how many feet a vehicle should be from the vehicle ahead of it. Once you find the traffic law that applies to your collision, you are in a stronger position to negotiate with the insurance company.
Cell Phone Records
If you suspect the other driver was distracted by his or her phone at the time of the accident, cell phone company records can prove if the other driver was texting or talking on the phone when the accident occurred. Keep in mind you will need the help of a personal injury attorney to obtain this evidence.
Proving another driver was at fault in an accident can be challenging on your own, especially if there are any complexities to your case. An experienced personal injury attorney will work on your behalf to gather evidence and present it to the insurance company to seek a fair settlement.