How is Liability Determined in a Car Accident Case?
Suppose you’ve been hit by a driver who ran a red light. It’s obvious to you that the other driver is at fault, and that their insurance company should immediately pay you for all of your damages – right?
If there are significant damages and injuries involved, it is safe to bet that the insurance company for the other driver will seek to contest liability and damages. For instance, they may assert that you, in fact, ran the red light. How do they know who actually ran a red light – they were not there to witness the accident. If their insured (the other driver) insists that it was you who ran the red light, they will naturally take the position of their driver.
How, then, do you prove that the other driver is at fault?
Ways of Proving Fault
In this type of situation, hopefully there will be witnesses who will have given statements to the police about who ran the red light. If they did not, we can contact them to find out what they will say when asked who ran the red light.
There may also be video. We will want to examine the accident scene if there is a dispute about who ran the red light to see if we can obtain video evidence of what happened.
We may even want to find out if the other driver called anyone immediately after the accident, and if so, what the other driver said. The other driver cannot use statements to another person (like their friend) to win their case (such as “I didn’t run the red light”), but, if the driver made a statement against their own interest (such as “I can’t believe I hit that person, I wasn’t paying attention and I just ran a red light”) that other person (like the driver’s friend) could testify to such statement in court. As a result, it will be helpful to know if the driver called anybody right after the accident and said anything against their own interest.
Cell Phone Records
Today, distracted driving has become a major cause of traffic accidents. Many drivers check their cell phones for messages or even text while driving. The dashboards of cars have become increasingly complex, and often require a driver to closely pay attention in order to do things such as changing radio station. With some cars that have Bluetooth capability, drivers can even send text messages by voice using their car’s capabilities.
All of these factors increase the number of accidents caused by inattentive drivers. In a case involving significant injuries and liabilities, we will want to know exactly what the other driver was doing at the time the crash occurred.
There are various ways that the information noted above may become evidence in litigation. Witnesses may testify under oath in depositions. Cell phone records may be obtained from the cell phone service provider. Videos may be obtained from those who captured them.
During the course of what is known as “discovery,” each side will be provided with the evidence of the other side. As a case progresses and more evidence is uncovered, each side will determine how they wish to proceed, and what type of settlement offer they may wish to consider.
At our firm, we are tenacious in seeking to uncover all evidence that may be helpful to our clients, and ensuring that the evidence is properly introduced. If you have been injured, please call us for a free consultation to learn how we can help.