One of the most important components of your car accident claim is establishing who—or who was not—at fault. Here, Douglas Lauenstein at The Lauenstein Law Firm explain steps you can take to establish that you were not at fault during an accident.
Proceed Immediately After the Accident
In determining negligence or fault, there are several things you should do after your accident to ensure you are not wrongfully liable. Take pictures of the damage to your car, and the damage to the other driver’s car. If there are witnesses present, ask them to wait until the police arrive so they can provide a statement. Ask any witnesses for their name, phone number and address. Also, be sure to exchange insurance information with the other driver, so that you can file a claim at a later time.
Obtain a Police Report
If you are involved in an accident, call the police immediately. This will ensure that a report is filed and your accident is properly documented. A police report will often contain the officer’s opinion regarding who violated traffic laws, and will also mention if they issued a citation to either driver. Sometimes, the report will only mention negligent behavior, without specifically attributing fault to either driver, but even this can go a long way to proving that the other driver’s careless behavior was the reason for the accident. You will be able to obtain a copy after it has been filed to use in your legal filings.
Research Your State’s Vehicle Code
Being informed on the traffic laws in your state is one of the best ways to ensure you are, or were, in compliance. Look for traffic signs that specifically address components of your accident: for example, “No Turn,” or “Yield, “signs. If you find evidence that pertains to your case and could help prove the other driver is at fault, make note of the information and where it was found.
Know What “Clear-Cut” Liability Cases Are
There are two types of accidents in which it is typically easy to determine fault: rear-end collisions, and a collision by a car making a left-hand turn. It is the duty of every driver to leave enough distance between them and the car in front of them to stop at a safe distance. Even if you have braked suddenly, the car that rear-ends you is usually still at fault. The only exception to this is if you were “contributorily negligent,” such as having two broken brake lights, or suddenly breaking to intentionally cause an accident.
Where left-hand turns are involved, the turning driver is nearly always at fault, as it is their duty to ensure they are making a left-hand turn at a safe time. One way that this can be refuted is if the car driving straight ran a red light.
Even in “clear-cut” liability cases, it is critical to obtain skilled legal representation—only they can ensure you receive the full compensation you deserve. To obtain legal representation, or to schedule a consultation with an experience car accident attorney, contact us today!