When someone suffers an injury in a car accident, it becomes crucial to establish fault. This determination is essential for filing an injury claim with an insurance company.
Without identifying the responsible party, the victim cannot seek compensation unless they rely on uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, which is where a skilled Northern California car accident attorney can provide invaluable assistance.
How Can Your Lawyer Determine Who Is at Fault for Your Car Accident?
It is easy to assume that when two cars collide, one of the two drivers is at fault. Interestingly enough, this is not always the case.
Some of the situations which may result in someone else being at fault, other than those directly involved in the wreck, include:
- Erratic driving. another driver may be at fault for an accident, even if they were not involved in the collision. Drivers who are not exercising caution when changing lanes could put others on the roadway in jeopardy of being involved in a wreck. This could result in the third driver being entirely or partially at fault for an accident.
- Road defect. when a road defect is obvious, a driver may need to swerve out of the way to avoid it, or their car may jump a lane resulting in a crash. In these cases, holding the city, town, or state partially liable for an accident may be possible.
The other potentially responsible parties include employers of truck drivers or rideshare drivers when they are accountable for an accident. An accident victim should never assume that the other driver is automatically at fault. Instead, the victim should take steps to establish responsibility.
After an accident, when someone suffers an injury, their best option is to seek guidance from a car accident injury attorney. Car accident lawyers can help investigate accidents and obtain information that can help establish fault.
What Are Some Possible Ways to Determine Fault?
To determine fault in a car accident, your lawyer may use:
- Police reports. Since most states require anyone involved in an accident where someone is injured to contact police, the police report may provide valuable information, which includes the officer on the scene’s impression of who may be at fault or how the accident happened.
- Accident scene. Information gathered at the location of the accident by one of the drivers involved, a bystander, or captured on traffic cameras may help determine fault. Information such as road conditions, traffic signals, and the position of vehicles can all be invaluable to establishing responsibility.
- Witness statements. a car accident attorney may also contact witnesses to the accident to gather information regarding what led up to the accident, which could help determine fault.
- Traffic laws. a review of the local traffic laws may also be invaluable in determining fault. The failure to yield the right of way, improper use of turning on red, and other violations that cause accidents may help determine fault in an accident.
Accident victims may have the necessary access and ability to obtain copies of an accident report taken by police. However, the other information mentioned above may not be as easy to get. This is one of the reasons why an accident victim should seek help from an experienced car accident lawyer.
Why is Hiring a Lawyer to Establish Fault Important?
Oftentimes, accident victim feels they can handle an insurance claim on their own because they feel that the fault for the accident was with the other driver involved. This could be a mistake. Insurance companies will go to great lengths to deny or diminish claims because the payment of a claim reduces their profits.
One way to avoid issues with an insurance company is to hire a lawyer to represent the victim’s interests throughout the claims process. The best option is to identify calm, competent, but aggressive representation to help navigate the claims process.
Some of the tactics insurers may use to avoid paying an insurance claim include:
- Denying the liable party has applicable coverage. Insurance providers often scour their policies to see if they can identify any clauses which may indicate they can escape paying a full claim. This is more challenging with car accident cases versus homeowner policies, but it can still occur.
- Denying their client’s liability. An insurer will attempt to prove their client was not responsible for an accident that injured another driver, pedestrian, or motorcyclist. This may happen nearly immediately after you file a claim.
- Denying the victim’s injury severity. Insurers will nearly always attempt to show the victim was not injured as seriously as they claim. However, medical records can quickly resolve this matter.
In some cases, the insurer may request the victim of an accident provide them with information that is not necessary to prove their case. Examples include recorded statements or full medical records that have nothing to do with the injuries suffered during an accident. No victim of a car accident who has suffered an injury should be signing any documents provided by an insurer without having them reviewed by a qualified personal injury lawyer.
Victim’s Rights Following a Car Accident
A driver who has never been in a traffic collision may be unclear about their legal rights and options. One important thing is that a victim must seek medical attention following an accident. This is the first step to establishing their injuries and holding the responsible party financially liable.
A victim’s rights may also include:
- Police reports. Regardless of who was at fault for an accident, everyone involved has a right to obtain a copy of the police report. Check with the law enforcement agency to determine when this report will be available. Remember, in some areas, police officers have ten days or more to file their reports after an accident.
- Evidence collection. Victims have the right to speak with witnesses and obtain statements, copies of their medical records to prove their injuries, and any available evidence which shows who was at fault. Keep in mind some evidence may only be obtained by making specific legal demands, such as traffic camera data.
- Right to legal counsel. Every accident victim can seek legal advice after injury. Furthermore, the victim can ask their lawyer to handle insurance claims and negotiations on their behalf.
- Rights regarding privacy. Accident victims can (and should) refuse to provide information to anyone other than their lawyer and the police. At-fault drivers or their insurers have no right to demand personal information.
- Right to seek compensation. A car accident victim can seek reimbursement for their losses. The losses a victim may seek compensation for may include medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.
Since many car accident victims may feel uncertain about what steps to take to protect their rights, contacting a car accident attorney right after an accident is essential. This is especially true if the evidence is unclear about how an accident occurred or who is responsible.
In some cases, determining fault may require an expert to reconstruct an accident using available evidence as well as other data which may be available from law enforcement or other sources. When an accident victim hires a lawyer to guide them through the claims process, their attorney will know who to contact to handle accident reconstruction.
Car Accident Injury Statistics and Liability for Injuries
In one recent year, 4.8 million people across the United States suffered an injury in a car crash. This number should concern everyone who drives on our roadways. Drivers are human, and humans make mistakes, but negligent drivers pose a real threat to the safety of everyone on the road.
Some of the reasons a driver may be liable for the injuries a victim suffers include:
- Dangerous driving habits. Drivers who speed, ignore traffic signs or weave in and out of traffic pose a unique threat to others on the roadway, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
- Operating while impaired. Impaired drivers cause thousands of accidents annually. When a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they may not react as quickly or may make bad decisions.
- Distracted driving. Drivers engaged with passengers, focusing on their GPS or radios, or using their cell phones pose a danger to everyone on the road, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
Since every accident on our roadways is unique, it is nearly impossible to judge who is responsible for the accident or what led to it without thoroughly investigating the circumstances. This means considering several factors. Hiring a car accident lawyer is often the best way a victim can ensure a thorough investigation of the accident and protect their rights.
What Happens When Accidents Result in Serious Injury?
Car accidents occur regularly on our roadways. Because of the various factors involved, including vehicle size, speed, and angle of the collision, every victim’s injury will be different. A victim’s age, overall health, and other factors may also play a role in determining the severity of the injury suffered.
Some of the most common car accident injuries include:
- Head and neck injuries. These injuries can range from a case of whiplash to traumatic brain injuries (TBI). The more serious an injury, the more important it may be to determine the fault for the accident properly. Remember, an insurer will take steps to reduce the amount they pay on a claim, so it will be important to ensure proof of fault.
- Broken bones. Some victims may suffer broken bones in an auto accident. In some cases, a single break of an extremity may take only a month to heal. Unfortunately, some victims will have compound or serious fractures, such as a broken pelvis. These injuries can take months of recovery time.
- Soft tissue and internal injuries. Soft tissue injuries, including bruises, sprains, and strains, may only require minor treatment. However, internal injuries, including bruising to organs, can occur during a car accident. These injuries can be debilitating and require additional follow-up care to prevent more serious problems.
Immediately following an accident, a victim may not be aware of some of the physical problems caused by a car accident. This is one of the many reasons why seeking immediate medical attention is critical to a victim’s well-being. Remain alert to physical changes that can occur in the physical health following an accident in case the car accident victim has suffered other injuries that medical personnel could not immediately identify.
Hiring an Attorney to Represent Car Accident Victims
While trying to tell who is at fault for a car accident is essential, a victim may be unsure about what steps they should be taking. There are many reasons a victim may think they do not need legal help, and they may feel they have a good reason not to hire a lawyer.
A victim needs to know about:
- Control of the case. Contrary to what an insurance adjuster may tell a victim, hiring a car accident lawyer does not mean victims lose control of the case. An attorney must inform the client of all communication with the insurance company, including settlement offers.
- Cost of legal help. In nearly all cases, a victim can ask for a free case review from an experienced attorney following a car accident. Most car accident lawyers take cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning the victim owes no legal fees unless the lawyer successfully obtains a settlement.
- Time to settle. Hiring a lawyer will not slow down the time between filing and settling a claim.
You need to know who you can hold at fault when filing an insurance claim after an accident. Once an attorney finds evidence of liability, they can help with the claims and negotiation process to recover your compensation.
Contact a Northern California Personal Injury Attorney for Legal Guidance
When it comes to determining fault and seeking compensation after a car accident, it is in your best interest to consult with a skilled Northern California personal accident attorney.
Their knowledge in handling complex legal matters and navigating the claims process can be invaluable in establishing liability and ensuring that you receive the rightful compensation for your injuries and damages. Don’t hesitate to reach out to an experienced attorney who will fight for your rights and guide you through every step of the process.