Any traffic collision is a traumatic event. After everything stops moving, there is always such a rush to find out everything possible about what happened and how it happened that facts are sometimes difficult to discern.
Two of the most important things a driver needs to determine are who is at fault in the collision and whether they have the right to seek compensation for any medical treatment or damages suffered as a result. Ultimately, however, the most important factor is who was at fault which, in most cases, requires the help of a Car Wreck Lawyer.
Negligence: Finding Who Was at Fault
The most important thing that everyone involved in an accident will want to determine is who was at fault. Unfortunately, in some collisions this is easier to determine than with others. It might seem simple at first, but as collisions become complicated, the questions of fault and related liability can become very complicated.
The most important thing that anyone involved in an accident can do is to gather as much information about what happened as possible. This way, any evaluations were based on facts, not just opinions or “he said, she said.” This is because, at least to the best of your ability, you want to prove you were not at fault and are entitled to compensation for your losses.
Negligence and Comparative Negligence
Anytime someone drives a vehicle, the law requires they operate that vehicle with a reasonable amount of care. When they do not do this, they are said to be negligent and responsible for the damages they cause to others.
In some states, there is what is known as a “Comparative Negligence” law, which holds that, in some accidents, more than one party involved in an accident are at fault, only to different degrees. In these instances, lawyers for all parties, along with representatives of insurance companies involved will determine who was at fault and to what degree. The result will be a finding as to the percentage of negligence that each party in an accident caused. This will range from 0 percent to 100 percent. To determine this, the parties will look at a variety of factors that can include:
· Failure to avoid another vehicle
· Failure to maintain proper lookout
· Driver inattention
· Any traffic law violations that might have contributed to the accident (such as failure to stop at a red light or speeding)
· Failure to adapt driving to traffic or weather conditions
In most cases, if a particular driver can be found to be 50 percent or more at fault (liable) in the accident, they can be forced to pay other harmed drivers compensation for their losses. Likewise, if you are found to be 50 percent or more at fault in causing an accident, you can be forced to pay the related damages of other drivers.
As stated above, whenever an accident occurs, it is critical that as much factual information about the accident and how it happened be gathered as soon as possible. It’s bad enough that information of this sort all too often ends up garbled and confused, but people also have different points of view, forget, and sometimes lie.
To help determine who is liable in an accident, try to gather as much information as possible about these factors:
· Speed. How fast was each participant traveling when the accident occurred?
· Damage. To what extent was each participant’s vehicle damaged as a result of the accident?
· Police report. Always try to get a copy of the police report since it nearly always has the “official version” of what happened.
· Scene investigation. In the case of a major accident, an accident investigator might be called to investigate the scene to gather and evaluate all information related to the accident.
· Witness statements. Statements will often be taken from everyone who saw or participated in the collision.
A final determination of liability will result after all of this information is gathered and compiled. You can protect your own interests by making sure this information is correct.