Determining who is at fault in a car accident is not always a straightforward or easy process, but it’s incredibly important. If you have been injured in a collision, proving the fault of the other driver is crucial to your ability to recover damages to pay for your losses. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave are experienced in the different methods used to prove liability and can help injured people recover compensation for the losses that they’ve incurred.
Determining Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident
Figuring out who is at fault in a car accident is important so that you and the other driver both understand which driver’s insurance company will have the responsibility of paying for property losses and other types of damages. Legal fault may be impacted by state laws, and the driver who caused a collision may not always be considered legally at fault for it.
For example, Missouri employs a system of fault determination called pure comparative negligence. Under this principle, collisions in which both drivers share part of the blame may have the fault allocated between the drivers, according to their individual percentages of fault. For example, if one driver is determined to be 60 percent at fault and the other driver to be 40 percent at fault in a collision, each one will be responsible for his or her percentage of fault. In a collision in which a plaintiff has suffered $100,000 in losses and is deemed to be 40 percent at fault, he or she will be limited to a recovery of $60,000. Insurance companies and personal injury lawyers may rely on experts and investigators to help them determine fault in cases in which liability is at issue.
Types of Evidence Used to Help Determine Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident
There are several types of evidence that might help to prove who is at fault in a car accident. Your attorney may work closely with an investigator and experts, such as an accident reconstruction expert, to help to build a strong case of liability.
Taking photographs of both vehicles, the damage to each one, and their relative positions to each other immediately after a collision can be helpful. If you are involved in a collision, it is a good idea to use your smartphone’s camera to take photographs so that you have clear pictures that show what happened. Information such as where on the vehicles that the damage occurred might also help in proving fault. For example, the drivers in the rear are normally held to be liable for causing rear-end collisions because they have a better ability to avoid collisions with the cars ahead of them. However, if the front vehicle cut the rear vehicle off in an improper lane change maneuver, the driver in the front car might share liability or be determined to be primarily at fault.
In addition to taking photographs of the vehicles and the crash scene, witness statements may be invaluable in proving liability. If other people witnessed the collision, get their names, phone numbers, and addresses so that they can be contacted. An investigator may then call the witnesses to get statements from them about what they saw.
Accident reconstruction experts may also be helpful in proving fault. These experts reconstruct collisions by conducting scientific investigations and analytical techniques. They begin their investigations with the known facts, including the positions of the vehicles after the crash, vehicle damage, and data from the scene. They might then work backward from the known facts using a scientific methodology to demonstrate what happened in the moments leading up to the collision. The accident reconstruction expert can then testify at trial or at a deposition about his or her findings, which can help to prove fault.
Some people think that a police report that assigns fault to one driver is enough to prove fault. However, police reports are generally considered to be inadmissible at trial, and insurance companies do not always agree that their insureds were at fault. However, if a driver was cited for violating a traffic law such as speeding, drunk driving, distracted driving, or something else, the driver’s actions may be used to prove liability.
Get Help from an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
Car crashes can be disruptive, costly, and traumatic, and proving fault after a collision can be a complicated process. An experienced injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave can determine which methods to use to help prove that the other driver was liable in your collision. By thoroughly investigating the situation, your attorney may help to build a stronger case so that the insurance company is likelier to offer a fair settlement amount. Please contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation.