Not all auto accident claims have clear and apparent liability. Although many incidents involve an obviously intoxicated driver, clear evidence of distraction, or outright disregarded laws and traffic signals, there are plenty of others that are nowhere near as obvious, and liability can become a subject of serious dispute. The other driver may deny fault. Their insurance company may deny your claim. You may not have enough solid evidence that what you say is true. What do you do when you are in an auto accident in Columbia, South Carolina, but liability isn’t clear?
This is where it is absolutely in your best interests to contact an auto accident attorney about your case. Some auto accident claims can be resolved without a lawyer, because liability is not disputed, the damages are minor, and there are no serious injuries. Yet, if there are serious injuries, substantial damage, and/or any question about liability, you need experienced legal representation to handle the insurance companies and investigate the claim.
How Liability is Determined in an Auto Accident
Liability is determined by establishing that the at-fault driver owed you a duty of care, to be cautious on the road and follow the traffic regulations, that the at-fault driver failed to uphold this duty of care, through negligence, and that this is what caused the incident and the injuries and damages concerned. Most commonly, auto accidents are caused by speeding, distracted driving, aggressive driving, drowsy driving, drunk driving, and following too close. Many of these auto accident causes can easily be proven through the available evidence. Others are not as simple and will require a more in depth investigation to determine liability.
The Police Report as Evidence of Liability
Whenever an auto accident occurs, you must notify the police to file a police report. This report will usually include how the responding officer believes the incident happened. They may even issue a citation to the at-fault driver or another driver for any laws that may have been broken. Unfortunately, the police report is not admissible as evidence in an auto accident claim. However, the police officer who responded to the accident can be called as a witness, and he or she can look at the police report to recall the incident and what happened. This is the next best thing to actually being able to use the police report.
Gathering Evidence After an Auto Accident in Columbia, South Carolina
The best thing you can do is gather as much evidence as possible while still at the scene of the accident. This could go a long way towards proving how the incident occurred, especially when that evidence is put to use by an auto accident reconstruction expert. This is someone who can use your photos, the police report, and witness statements to reconstruct how the incident occurred, using maps, computer programs, and other tools. You can get access to an auto accident reconstruction expert by contacting an attorney.
Some evidence that you can gather at the scene will include photographs of injuries, of vehicle damage, of the vehicles’ positions, of the skid marks on the road, of the traffic signs and signals that weren’t obeyed, and of any indication that distractions were present. For example, you might get a photo of someone’s fast food meal scattered in the wreckage, as evidence of the distraction of eating while driving. Even the most minor details could be important, so take pictures. You should also get the contact information of witnesses before they leave the scene. Then, write down what you remember about the incident, so you can easily recall all of the details, later, without any holes in your memory or faded memories.
If you happen to have a dash camera in your vehicle, then this could end up being all the evidence that you require to establish liability. The dash camera footage doesn’t have a faulty memory, and it isn’t biased by emotion. Rather, it is an exact visual representation of what actually occurred from the perspective of your own vehicle. It can also continue recording after the auto accident, so that if the other driver is visibly impaired or behaving aggressively, then this will all be captured as long as exchanges take place in front of the camera.
Usually, when a claim involves such strong and inarguable evidence as dash camera footage, there’s not going to be a lot of argument about liability. The auto insurance policy of the at-fault driver is far more likely to settle the claim for a fair amount, rather than risk losing even more when the video footage is viewed by a jury. Thus, having this kind of device in your vehicle is well worth the modest investment (you can get one for around $25 to $50), and it can eliminate much of the stress of what might otherwise be an auto accident without clear and apparent liability seen in the other evidence. If you already have a dash camera and it recorded your Columbia, South Carolina auto accident, then bring this footage to your initial appointment with an auto accident attorney from the Connell Law Firm, and we’ll be well prepared to argue your case and seek the maximum value of compensation for your claim
The Connell Law Firm Will Help You Prove Liability in an Unclear Accident Claim
While the dash cam footage is likely the best evidence you can provide in many auto accident claims where liability is disputed, it is not something that everyone has or even thinks about. If the details of your auto accident are not immediately clear based or if your claim is denied, then you need the help of an experienced Columbia, South Carolina auto accident attorney to thoroughly investigate and prove your case. We’ll look at all of the available evidence, bring in expert witnesses, and leave no stone unturned when it comes to proving your claim.