When it comes to car accidents, there is so much talk about fault. Who is at fault? What are the at-fault party’s obligations? How does fault affect the outcome of a case? The questions and conversations can go on and on.
Fault, legally speaking, is another term for “liability.” Oklahoma is an at-fault state, meaning the person responsible for a car accident is also obligated to cover the victim’s expenses. Insurance covers this cost. Otherwise, every driver would be vulnerable to financial ruin.
Fault, however, isn’t automatically assigned to one driver or another. Insurance companies encourage their drivers to never admit to fault, making the process that much harder. At some point, you must prove fault before insurance companies dole out their benefits. Here are some helpful tactics for proving fault in your car accident.
REFERENCE POLICE REPORTS
When the cops appear at the scene of an accident, they take statements from all drivers involved. They also compare the claims with the observable, physical evidence. Using these facts, they often develop opinions about which person they believe when the stories conflict.
These opinions may be left out of the official reports, but the other evidence should be included. Police will normally position the evidence to make one person appear to be at fault without directly stating so in the report.
You should be able to access these reports to help you argue for the other driver’s fault. If you have difficulty, get help from a lawyer.
RECORD THE EVENT
Whenever you are in an accident, you should take as many pictures of the event as you can. Capture images of both cars, paying special attention to all scratches, dings, and dents. Make sure to take wide pictures of the cars’ locations and distances to one another. If there are tire marks or outside property damage, record this as well.
Every aspect of a wreck tells a tale. The size, shape, and location of a dent can offer clues about where you were hit and how hard. The same is true for the tire marks and surrounding damage you documented. The simple positions of the cars can corroborate or invalidate a driver’s account.
USE MEDICAL DOCUMENTS
The size, shape, and position of an injury can back up your claims. For instance, if you have whiplash from your head snapping backward, this can help prove that you were hit from behind at a high speed. In this way, medical documents can operate much like the images described above.
USE ALL OTHER RELEVANT DOCUMENTS
In a car accident, the paperwork can pile up. There may be records from the towing company, for instance. These might be useful in explaining the damage and demonstrating just how you were hit.
You also may have repair receipts from your mechanic. Like the other documentation already mentioned, these may have detailed accounts of the damage, showing just how and where your car was hit.
TALK TO WITNESSES
Witnesses are among your most useful tools in proving fault. Often, they have no vested interest in protecting one driver or another. They simply want to see justice served. If there are bystanders at your accident, try to get their names and numbers. You can give this information to your lawyer or insurance company, who can follow up and gather statements.
REFERENCE TRAFFIC LAWS
Often, if a driver breaks traffic laws, people automatically assume they caused the accident. Take note of exactly what happened in the accident. If you were rear-ended, for instance, the other driver was likely at-fault. Speeding, ignoring lights and stop signs, making risky turns and lane changes, etc. are all ways the other driver could be responsible for the accident.
GET HELP FROM AN ATTORNEY
Things can sometimes go smoothly after a wreck. The at-fault driver takes responsibility; the insurance claims are filed; everyone receives their benefits; and people move on.
Sometimes, however, there are obstacles. The other driver lies about their fault. The insurance company refuses to accept your story, and it denies your benefits. When this happens, get an attorney to help. You might have your evidence in order, but it may take their legal skill to tie that evidence together, making a case for the other driver’s liability. If the other side continues to be stubborn, an attorney can take the matter to court, legally proving which driver was at-fault.
Contact our office if you need help proving that another driver was negligent. You can call us directly at 918-492-7674, or you can reach us online.