Hello Folks, Attorney Paul Samakow here.
Today’s blog is focused on proving fault in an auto collision.
How do I prove who’s at fault in my auto collision?
This is a common question.
Sometimes it’s difficult to tell who caused a car wreck. Was the guy going fifteen miles over the speed limit to blame, or was it the driver who pulled into oncoming traffic? There are dozens of similar scenarios that gray the line of fault in an auto collision.
The following tips will help to identify the at fault party and move a Personal Injury claim forward.
The first part of this advice starts at the scene of the auto collision and probably sounds familiar to you if you’ve read my other blogs.
- Call the police and document the scene. Take pictures of damaged vehicles, damaged property and traffic lights or signs. Also check to see if any vehicles involved or witnesses’ vehicles captured dash cam footage of the collision.
- Exchange information with the other drivers and be sure to get a card for the officer on the scene. If possible, take pictures of driver’s licenses, insurance cards and the license plates of all vehicles involved. All of this becomes necessary as a personal injury claim moves forward.
- Inform your insurance company about the collision and provide just the facts about the involved parties. Do not volunteer your opinions or any unnecessary information during this call and never agree to being recorded.
- Contact my office ASAP. We will help you gather needed medical records and make sure you are properly treated for your injuries.
- To prove fault, you must establish:
Duty of Care: Every driver has a duty to drive safely and obey traffic laws.
Breach of Duty: The other driver breached their duty of care by driving recklessly, speeding, or disobeying traffic laws.
Causation: The other driver’s breach of duty caused the accident.
Damages: You suffered physical injuries or property damage because of the collision.
Proving fault can be complicated. You must provide evidence such as witness statements, police reports, photos and videos of the accident. The more evidence you have, the stronger your case will be.
To complicate matters, Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. are 3 of the 5 jurisdictions that have a very tough law on “fault.” The law is referred to as “contributory negligence.” This means that if the individual seeking to recover compensation from another party “contributes” to the collision, that person making the claim will lose. Even if the person making the claim is only 1% at fault! Right. Tough law.
An example of this, to follow the example at the beginning, if you are attempting a left turn and another driver is coming toward you, and that other driver is going 15 miles per hour over the speed limit … heck, let’ say the other driver is going 50 miles over the limit, and you attempt the turn, and then, oops, there’s a collision. Guess what? You can’t win this case – because you did not wait for it to be clear to turn. You would be considered at least 1% at fault here. I know, it sucks. But, the moral of this story is – wait, then turn.
If you or someone you love is ever involved in an auto collision, I strongly recommend you call my office immediately 703-854-9288 or 301-298-8383.
We can help you with your personal injury claim, help you get the medical care you need for your injuries and see to it the at fault party pays for your pain and suffering and property damage.
Until next time,
Please be safe, and NEVER text while driving!
Attorney Paul Samakow