How To Prove You Are Not At Fault In A Car Accident

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So you want to know how to prove you are not at fault in a car accident?  You must show sufficient evidence that another party was at fault. This evidence may include the police report, eyewitness statements, photos or videos of the scene, including damage to the surrounding area, skid marks, road signs, traffic camera footage, notes of recollections of the collision, medical records, etc.

The more documentation you have, the stronger your case will be, but remember that the evidence can vary for each situation, and there’s no predefined list of evidence to prove someone’s fault.

Evidence That May Prove Fault in a Car Accident

To succeed in a car accident lawsuit, preserving the evidence of the car accident is essential. Most evidence needs to be collected right after the accident since it may only be available at that time, such as photographs. Some of the potential evidence that may help you to demonstrate fault following an accident are:

A Copy of the Police Report

If you called the police to the accident scene, they likely filed a report. This document will list the collision’s time, date, and location. The officer might have also listed some extra details about the accident, like whether anybody appeared intoxicated or if any traffic citations were issued. This information can support your pursuit of compensation.

Eyewitness Testimony

If other people saw your accident happen, you may be able to use their statements to support your case. Eyewitnesses can include other passengers, bystanders, and law enforcement officials.

Expert witnesses, such as accident reconstruction specialists, can also be consulted to help establish exactly what happened.

Traffic Camera Footage

Many intersections and significant roadways come equipped with traffic cameras. These devices record collisions, which can be essential in proving that you didn’t cause a car accident.

Lawyers can get this footage for you.  Book a free consultation with a lawyer near you.

Black Box Data

Nowadays, some modern cars come with “black boxes.” These electronic devices track the speed, force of impact, and other data in collisions. We can use this data to verify certain aspects of your case, like your speed before the crash, braking times, and speed at impact, among other things.

Evidence From the Accident Scene

An accident scene tells story. Glass on the roadway illustrates the force of impact. Smashed doors, spoilers, and trunks show what type of accident happened.

If you have any pictures of the accident scene and your vehicle, keep them. Even the smallest detail can prove instrumental in advancing your case.

Your Medical Records

To recover compensation for sustained damages, you must prove that you suffered harm. Your medical records should demonstrate the following:

  • The severity of your condition
  • Your diagnosis and prognosis
  • Your necessary treatments

Always Call 911 After a Car Accident

Before exiting the vehicle (unless it is dangerous to remain in your car), call 911 to report the accident and any injuries you know of. This serves several benefits: first, and most importantly, first responders are alerted and dispatched to the scene; second, it removes the possibility of the other driver trying to convince you not to call it in. Sometimes, an at-fault driver may change their story or deny important facts if there is no accident report, making it your word against theirs. If the other driver acted recklessly or negligently, inform the 911 operator and the responding officer.

Gather Photo and Video Evidence at the Scene

Most of us carry smartphones with ingrained photos and video capability, so we can quickly produce high-quality images and video with the equipment in our pockets, which means that documenting the accident is very easy. If you can do so, take photos and videos of the crash. Videos can be beneficial because you can narrate as you go.

No matter how vivid the crash may feel in the moments after, memory is unreliable, but videos will never change. If documenting the accident will complicate your injuries, ask someone else to do so. The more tangible documentation you can gather, the more support you will have as you work to present your story and prove your innocence.

Do’s and dont’s at the time of the car accident

Having discussed the evidence post-accident, the next steps are the actions to take or not to take at the time of the car accident. Your actions and statements can significantly impact the outcome of your car accident lawsuit. So, it is vital to remain calm and composed before getting out of your vehicle. You should avoid doing any of the following just after the accident: 

No-doubt liabilities

No-doubt liability accidents are defined as blatant traffic violations where it is easy to prove who was at fault.

Things like running a red light, stop signs, rear-end collisions, speeding, driving under the influence, or other unambiguous and unmistakable traffic violations make it simple to determine which driver was at fault.

Ultimately, liability will come down to the facts and the specific details of the accident. If you can prove and rule out the possibility of a no-doubt liability accident where you are at fault, you will be in a better position to defend your case.

Don’t admit fault; keep it to yourself.

If you’ve been involved in a car crash, it can quickly become a serious legal matter. What you say and whom you tell it to matter a great deal. As a rule of thumb, keep the details of the incident to yourself and only share them with an attorney. If you make any comments to the police officer, the other driver, or even the insurance company suggesting you may be at fault, your credibility will weaken, and you stand the risk of implying your negligence in the accident.

Don’t agree to the first settlement offer.

Sometimes, the other party’s insurance company might contact you and make you a settlement offer. In other cases, you or your attorney will submit a demand letter on your behalf. Whenever you receive any settlement offers, evaluate them carefully to ensure the insurance company is being fair. Insurance companies are in the business of saving money, typically look out for their best interests, and don’t always make fair settlements. Having a competent legal professional negotiating on your behalf can be instrumental in obtaining the best settlement offer. If you’re representing yourself, protect your interests and always negotiate for a higher settlement.

Conclusion

Being involved in a car accident can be unsettling. However, if details are handled thoughtfully at the time of the accident, it can become easier to prove the other party’s fault. Moreover, the final consequences of these incidents can affect all parties involved in the accident; remember that it may be complicated and time-consuming to handle such cases without professional legal counsel.

There are instances where drivers are severely injured or go into shock at a car accident scene. If for any reason you cannot collect the evidence at the scene of the accident, consult a car accident lawyer and consider their legal advice and assistance in identifying and preserving the evidence to support your lawsuit.

Want to know what your accident settlement could be worth?  Use our free accident settlement calculator.

 

Related Questions

How Do I Dispute Car Accident Fault?

Some jurisdictions allow car crash victims to file rebuttal police reports. Somewhat similarly, some insurance companies allow victims to appeal or challenge fault determinations. However, for the most part, it’s very difficult to dispute car accident fault.

Fortunately, a fault determination usually doesn’t matter. Liability for damages is, in the end, the only determination that matters. The difference between fault and liability is like the difference between a betting spread and a final score. The spread is basically a comparison of the teams on paper. After the game, the spread doesn’t matter.

Fault is an initial determination based on evidence at the accident scene. Liability is a final determination based not only on initially available evidence, but also on other evidence and certain legal doctrines.

Evidence

Proof in a car crash case usually includes the police accident report, which was mentioned above, crash damage patterns, and witness statements.

Many people dispute fault because, in many cases, the police report is incomplete or inaccurate. If Jim tries to cross the street and Mike hits and kills him, the police report only contains one side of the story. That doesn’t mean Mike lied. It simply means that we all remember things selectively.

Witnesses often remember things differently than participants. Since witnesses have nothing to gain or lose, their memories are a little less selective.

Crash damage patterns are often game changers as well. Let’s go back to Mike and Jim. If Mike’s car is messed up on the driver front side, that indicates Jim crossed in front of him. However, if the damage is on the passenger front side, Jim most likely stepped into the street without looking both ways.

Surveillance camera evidence is often important as well. Generally, a picture really is worth a thousand words. Moreover, if they’re working properly, cameras are never wrong or biased. This evidence is rarely available during brief fault investigations. Most police investigators and insurance adjusters want to end these investigations as quickly as possible. If they want to watch TV, they’ll do that at home.

Legal Doctrines

Since we’re on the subject of pedestrian accidents, let’s talk about the sudden emergency defense. This doctrine is one of several that could affect fault/liability issues. A scene from the 1995 classic Tommy Boy illustrates both prongs of the sudden emergency defense, which are:

  • Unexpected Emergency : A hood fly-up, like a lightning strike or tire blow-out, is a true sudden emergency. Items like jaywalking pedestrians, stopped-short cars, and vehicles that cut across multiple lanes  are everyday hazards, not sudden emergencies. Under the duty of care, motorists must anticipate and avoid everyday hazards.
  • Reasonable Reaction : After a crash, most people pull over, help victims if possible, and wait for emergency responders. Tommy didn’t react reasonably to the hood fly-up. Instead, he drove recklessly. So, in a hypothetical lawsuit, Tommy would be liable for damages, even though the hood fly-up is a sudden emergency.

Comparative fault also affects the fault/liability question. Basically, this legal doctrine shifts part of the blame from the tortfeasor (negligent driver) to the victim. If Jim really did step into the street without looking both ways, he and Mike were each partially responsible for the wreck.

Exact comparative fault law varies in different states. Usually, if the tortfeasor was at least 50 percent responsible for the wreck, the victim is entitled to a proportionate share of damages.

Who is at Fault in a Car Accident When Backing Up?

Coronavirus lockdowns in 2020 sharply reduced vehicle traffic. Most people thought the lockdowns would sharply reduce the number of car accidents as well.

But, the opposite happened. Drivers developed some bad habits, like excessive speeding, as roads emptied. As a result, in 2021, traffic fatalities hit a sixteen-year high .

Whiplash is one of the most common low-speed car accident injuries. A slight amount of force snaps the neck back and forth. Whiplash is hard to diagnose. It doesn’t show up on most diagnostic tests, and the initial symptoms, like neck stiffness, aren’t very serious. However, if not promptly and properly treated, this injury could cause paralysis.

As outlined below, sometimes it’s easy to determine fault in a backing-up car accident. In other cases, this determination is much more complex.

Accidentally Backing Up Into Objects

The newest vehicles have back-up sensors that alert drivers if they’re about to hit a fence or another fixed object. Some vehicles even have onboard computers that automatically apply the brakes in these situations. However, if you’re one of the many, many people who drives an older car, you must back out of the driveway the old-fashioned way. You must turn and look.

In most cases, drivers are 100 percent responsible for these backing-up accidents, no questions asked. Admittedly, some objects, like children’s bikes, are hard to see. However, this difficulty usually doesn’t affect fault.

PIP (Personal Injury Protection) insurance, which is available in most states and mandatory in a few states, usually covers whiplash and other personal injuries associated with such crashes. These policies usually pay medical bills. They may pay a little toward lost wages as well. Full coverage policies also cover vehicle damage in these cases. If you have liability-only insurance, you’re on your own for vehicle repairs, and probably medical bills as well.

A driver’s insurance policy may also cover damage to the struck object. However, most people are on their own for these damages as well.

Backing Into Another Vehicle or Person

In most states, responsibility issues are much more complex if drivers back into other vehicles or persons.

At one level, there’s a moral responsibility. If Phil backs into his neighbor’s mailbox, he must pay damages (replace the mailbox). If Phil backs into his neighbor’s husband, he must pay damages (compensation for economic and noneconomic losses). The damages are higher because a person is worth a lot more than a mailbox.

At another level, there’s a legal responsibility. Most drivers have a duty of reasonable care. They must drive defensively and avoid crashes if at all possible. However, unlike most trees and mailboxes, most cars and people are capable of movement. Therefore, these responsibility issues are complex. Legal doctrines, like comparative fault, affect legal responsibility.

Basically, this rule shifts responsibility from one person to the other one. Assume Tony is glued to his cell phone and he doesn’t see Alex backing up. Meanwhile, Alex is glued to his cell phone and he doesn’t see Tony behind him. Alex and Tony are each partially at fault for the crash.

Comparative fault laws vary significantly in different states. So, a lawyer should always evaluate such claims. Even if a police officer said you were at fault for the wreck, you might still be entitled to compensation.  Since situations vary so much, it’s best to talk to a lawyer.

Easy Tips to Win a Left Turn Accident Claim

In most cases, victim/plaintiffs win a left turn accident claim, or any other accident claim, by proving negligence, or a lack of care. Driver error causes over 98 percent of vehicle collisions.

Not all driving errors are negligence. For example, if Tim was talking on his phone at the time of a crash, that could be wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time accident. However, if a lawyer introduces additional evidence and proves that Tim had been on his phone for several blocks, that’s different.

In case you’re wondering, defective products, mostly bad tires, cause most of the rest of the left turn accidents in the United States.

So, in this blog, we’ll talk about what kinds of errors usually cause left turn accidents as well as the evidence in a car crash case.

What Causes Left Turn Accidents?

The aforementioned driving errors usually involve either operator impairment or aggressive driving.

We mentioned device distraction above. Motorists who use devices while driving often fail to keep a proper lookout. They basically just aren’t watching the road. Substance use may be the most common kind of driver impairment. Usually, substance impairment begins with the first sip, pill, or puff. If a driver isn’t at 100 percent, physically and otherwise, that driver is impaired.

Other kinds of driver impairment include excessive fatigue and a medical condition. Driving after eighteen consecutive awake hours is as bad as driving drunk. Serious medical conditions, like epilepsy, could cause a sudden loss of consciousness. Moderate medical conditions, like the flu, reduce driving ability by up to 50 percent.

Aggressive driving is very common when motorists make left turns against traffic. Most drivers only look straight ahead, waiting for a break in traffic. WHen they think they see a break, they shoot through it. Woe be unto a driver or pedestrian in the motorist’s path. There’s almost no chance the turning driver will see the victim.

Evidence in Accident Claims

The police accident report, medical bills, and the victim/plaintiff’s own testimony usually make up the evidence in a left turn accident claim.

These items, by themselves, may or may not be enough to obtain maximum compensation in a left turn wreck. The police report is a good example. The report is often incomplete or biased. If the victim didn’t survive the wreck, the report’s narrative section obviously contains only one side of the story.

On a related note, some police reports involve extensive, multi-agency investigations. These investigations may even include input from an accident reconstruction professional. Other reports are single agency investigations. An emergency responder composes the report almost as an afterthought.

So, a car accident lawyer must carefully evaluate the evidence in a case, determine what more is needed, if anything, and skillfully present this evidence to a jury.

Picture of Kristi Carter

Kristi Carter

Kristi Patrice Carter has 23 years of legal writing experience. She's been published in Above the Law, Life Hacker, and the Law Dictionary and has self-published thirteen books. She holds a JD from the Chicago-Kent College of Law and a B.A. in English from the University of Illinois Chicago.

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