You are on your way to work and waiting at the traffic light. As soon as it turns green, you begin to accelerate only to see another driver making a left turn right in front of you and cutting you off, making the collision inevitable. While you may believe you had the right-of-way and the other driver failed to yield, he or she is trying to push back and tell you you should have done something to avoid the crash. So, how can you prove they were at fault? Our California car accident law firm weighs in on how fault is determined in a right-of-way crash and what you can do to receive compensation for damages.
What Kind of Evidence Do I Need to Prove That the Other Driver Was at Fault After a Car Accident?
Generally after a car accident, there may be several types of evidence available to help support your case and point to the at-fault party. First, if you are able to do so, you may want to take steps to document the scene of the accident by taking as many photos and videos as you can. Take notes of the contact information of any witnesses, and write down details about the accident that you may forget later on.
Report the accident to law enforcement as soon as possible. When damages are minor and vehicles are not disabled, law enforcement may not show up, but you will at least be able to show that you attempted to report the crash. If they do show up, try to obtain a copy of the police report, as it provides impartial input about the accident, such as vehicle positions, skid marks, and debris on the roadway, road and weather conditions, and the extent of damages sustained by each vehicle. From there, you can use the report along with your pictures and videos to show that the other driver was in violation of the California Vehicle Code and thus bears the blame for the car crash.
What Happens if I Am Partially at Fault for the Car Accident?
If you believe you may have partially contributed to your car accident, that does not automatically bar you from recovering compensation, but it may affect the amount you will be eligible to receive. The state of California applies the pure comparative negligence rule, which attributes a percentage of fault to the plaintiff who contributed to the accident and then uses that percentage to discount the amount of the settlement that the plaintiff will receive.
For example, if you were driving and using your phone and did not see that another car failed to yield at a roundabout and caused your vehicle to be struck, you may be 30% at fault because you were engaging in distracted driving. While the other driver bears the majority of the fault because he or she should have yielded to your vehicle, you did not attempt to hit the brakes or steer away because you were looking at your phone, which will result in a 30% reduction of your settlement. The key to maximizing the amount you may receive is to show evidence that will reduce your percentage of blame as much as possible.
Can I sue an at-Fault Driver for Personal Injury After A Car Accident?
Most car accident claims will go through the at-fault driver’s insurance company. The insurer will be responsible for issuing a settlement check. Alternatively, you may submit a claim through your own insurance company, which will then issue a settlement check to you in less time once you pay for a deductible, and then your insurance company will seek to be reimbursed by the at-fault driver’s insurer.
But what happens when the driver has insufficient coverage or no coverage at all? Generally in this case, you may have the option of seeking compensation by filing a civil lawsuit for personal injury. This is also true if you believe you should receive compensation for punitive damages in cases where you can prove that the at-fault driver was acting in a grossly negligent or reckless way. Punitive damages are not available in every personal injury case and are not usually part of insurance-issued settlements, so ask your attorney if you may be eligible.
Do I Need an Attorney for My Personal Injury Claim After my Car Accident?
Generally, most insurance companies are largely focused on protecting their profits and bottom lines rather than showing empathy for those injured by their policyholder. In most cases, insurers will employ a series of well-known strategies to try and reduce the amount of the settlement owed to you by assigning you an exaggerated percentage of blame or finding other reasons to deny your claim. They may also get excessively pushy and pressure you into accepting a low, inadequate settlement offer.
It is in your best interest to work with an attorney, especially if you suffered significant injuries and/or property damages, and anticipate that a large settlement amount may be at stake. If your accident resulted in more than a dent or a fender-bender, you need to work with a personal injury attorney who can help you negotiate with the insurance company and build a strong case on your behalf so you can recover maximum compensation. The Accident Network Law Group has assisted many clients in California to receive a fair settlement after a car accident. Contact us for a free, no-obligation case evaluation to learn your options.