Proving Fault in Car Accident Cases
Car accidents are one of the most common causes of injuries, which often result in personal injury claims. As with other types of personal injury, it is necessary to determine who was careless or negligent. How do you prove fault? Here are a few suggestions.
First of all, it is important to note that insurance companies will not simply accept your argument or claim that someone else was at fault. Having your claim settled fairly will usually require strong support, and in many cases the support of an attorney who can successfully argue on your behalf.
Police reports often include the police officer's opinion of whose fault an accident was. If a citation was issued to a motorist, it can be a strong indication of who was at fault. In addition, when an individual violates a certain traffic law that results in an accident, if it is noted in the police report this can be vital support for your claim.
State traffic laws or vehicle codes. In every state including Florida, there are state laws, often referred to as vehicle codes, that govern driving. Essentially, these "Rules of the Road" contained in the state statutes help support your claim of what happened in your accident. Whether someone was exceeding the speed limit, ignored a traffic light or yield/stop sign, or in some other way violated the traffic laws or vehicle codes, it could help when negotiating your claim with your own or the responsible party's insurance company. Most of these vehicle codes can be found at a law library, or even online. Florida Statutes Title XXIII Motor Vehicle Chapter 316 can be found here.
Witness testimony. An objective witness (one who would be impartial to either party) may be supportive in your efforts to establish liability to the insurance company. Someone who witnessed the accident may be willing to provide testimony should your case go to trial, or a statement in support of your claim with the insurance company. In addition, expert witnesses (often referred to as accident reconstruction experts) may also be able to help, as these experts can closely examine skid marks, photographs, damage to vehicles, electronic data, and other objective evidence in order to form an opinion regarding who was at fault.
No-doubt liability. In certain types of accidents, there is little doubt as to who was at fault. This is usually true in left-turn accidents and rear-end collisions. In a rear-end collision, it is the fault of the driver who struck the vehicle in front of him/her 99% of the time. Drivers are supposed to maintain a safe distance, so that in the event the car in front of them stops suddenly or for any reason, they can safely stop without causing an accident.
With left-turn accidents, the person who made the turn is nearly always found at fault, although there are exceptions to the rule. For example, if the car coming from the other direction as the vehicle made the left-turn was driving at speeds well over the speed limit, the driver may be responsible. The same is true if the car that was coming straight on ran a red light, striking the vehicle making the left-turn.
Florida is a "no-fault" car insurance state, which means that drivers are required to carry PIP, or personal injury protection, benefits. Essentially, if you suffer injuries or are unable to work because of your injuries, your own policy will pay for medical costs, lost income, and other losses regardless of who was at fault in the accident. However, there is an "injury threshold" in which the liable party's insurance company may pay the damages, but this only applies when the injuries are considered permanent or disfiguring, or in some way disabling.
If you have been involved in a car accident, contact the Orlando personal injury attorneys at Adams & Luka immediately for exceptional legal guidance and support.