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Establishing Fault in South Carolina Auto Accident Claims

December 26, 2016

It can be difficult to establish and prove fault in a South Carolina auto accident. While some cases are fairly clear cut, others are more complex with details that are challenging to determine and prove. Every case is unique, and you may find yourself in the unenviable position of one who cannot prove the fault of the other driver, even if you know that you are not the one to blame. This is where you will find it extremely helpful, and perhaps even entirely necessary to have the benefit of a South Carolina auto accident attorney on your side. The attorneys at the Connell Law Firm can provide a free consultation to get you started, and then help you through every step that follows. We know how to gather and investigate the evidence, consult with eye witnesses and expert witnesses, and represent you in your pursuit of compensation for your auto accident injuries and losses.

Common Causes of South Carolina Auto Accidents

Depending on the circumstances of your auto accident, it may be very clear who is liable for the associated damage. This is especially so if the at-fault driver was issued a citation for breaking the laws of the road. Yet, not all auto accidents are clearly one person’s fault, and some are caused by the unsafe behaviors of more than one driver involved in the collision.

The most common causes of South Carolina auto accidents however have been listed by the Department of Public Safety. These include not paying attention to or disregarding traffic signals, driving while distracted (typically by cell phones, though other distractions also exist), drowsy or fatigued driving, driving over the speed limit, failing to yield the right of way, following too closely behind another vehicle (frequently causing rear-end collisions), making improper lane changes or turns, and driving while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol.

Another common cause is that a driver was not necessarily driving over the speed limit, but was traveling too fast for the conditions of the road or weather. When drivers operate their vehicles while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, they frequently end up in collisions that result in fatalities. Some of these situations make it quite obvious which driver is at fault. If the other driver was intoxicated, and you were not seen to be breaking any traffic laws, then the intoxicated driver is the liable party. If the other driver was speeding, and, again, you were obeying the rules of the road, then the other driver is the liable party. However, there may be cases where it is difficult to prove negligence, and other cases where mistakes were made in more than one vehicle.

The Police Report Is Not Enough To Establish Negligence

It is important to notify the police after a South Carolina auto accident. This is both to ensure that you do the right thing, according to the law, and to ensure that your accident is properly investigated. However, if the accident has not been investigated by the police, then you will have to fill out a form with the Department of Motor Vehicles within 15 days of the collision, if there were injuries, deaths, or at least $1,000 of property damage associated with your auto accident.

Even so, the police report and/or traffic collision report will not be useful in providing evidence of liability in the accident. In fact, the law clearly states that such reports cannot be used as evidence in an auto accident claim to recover compensation. So, what can you do to establish negligence if you can’t rely on the police report or the traffic collision report?

The Importance of Evidence in an Auto Accident Liability Claim

Because you cannot prove negligence with a report from the police or the DMV, you will have to establish liability with the evidence at hand. This evidence can come in a variety of different forms, and your attorney will help you to gather and evaluate the different types of evidence that are available.

The most common forms of evidence used to establish liability in an auto accident claim include photographs, eye witness statements, and expert witness evaluations. You can begin to gather evidence from the moment of the accident by taking pictures of the scene. You can get photos of the position of the vehicles, relevant traffic signs, the conditions of the road, the property damage, the injuries, and more. The more pictures you take, the better the photographic evidence will be. It will also assist when it comes to using expert witnesses to reconstruct the accident.

You can also help your case at the scene of the accident by obtaining the contact information of any eye witnesses or individuals who rendered aid after the collision. You should get their names, phone numbers, and email addresses, if possible. Your attorney will then be able to contact them at a later date to provide eye witness testimony to support your position.

When it comes to expert witnesses, the attorneys at the Connell Law Firm have access to a vast network of experts who can testify on your behalf. These include accident reconstructionists, medical professionals, and even police officers. Even though you cannot use the police report as evidence, the police officers who responded to the scene can be witnesses in your case.

Do You Need a South Carolina Auto Accident Attorney?

If you were the victim of a South Carolina auto accident caused by a negligent driver, then you have a right to fair compensation for your injuries and losses. Yet, it is up to you whether or not you want to be represented by a dedicated auto accident attorney in South Carolina. The benefit of hiring a lawyer is that you can seek the maximum amount of compensation, prepare for the future, and build a strong case. You can also have the stress minimized as your attorney will handle the complex details of your claim. Ultimately, you would be wise to at least seek a free consultation to get advice and guidance at the start of the process. Contact the Connell Law Firm today to schedule your free South Carolina auto accident consultation.