What Do Investigators Look for in a Car Accident?

“Fault” is an important legal concept when it comes to resolving a car accident in California. Every state has different laws that pertain to car accidents and liability for the resulting damages, and California enforces a fault-based system. This means whoever causes a motor vehicle accident absorbs liability for the resulting damages. In some cases, the fault is readily apparent, and victims have minimal difficulty proving liability for their damages. However, liability isn’t so clear in other cases, and extensive investigation may be necessary to determine the underlying cause of an accident.

If you have recently experienced a car accident in California, you should know how investigators determine fault for these incidents and what victims can do to recover from the negligence of other drivers. Perry Personal Injury Lawyers can offer legal counsel when you need it most, and the following information can help you make sense of the immediate aftermath of an accident.

Elements of Negligence in a Personal Injury Case

When one party’s actions result in injury and/or economic losses to another party, the injured party has the right to seek compensation for their damages through a personal injury claim. For example, auto insurance can potentially offer some swift relief after a car accident, and it will be essential to prove fault to secure a fair settlement from the insurance carrier. However, proving fault is even more vital if you intend to pursue a personal injury claim against the other driver.

Proving fault and establishing a defendant’s negligence in any civil dispute requires proving a few important facts. First, the plaintiff must establish the defendant’s duty of care in the situation in question. For example, every driver has a duty to obey posted speed limits. Speeding is a clear breach of this duty of care. The plaintiff must show the duty of care held by the defendant and then prove the defendant failed to act accordingly in the situation in question, resulting in harm to the plaintiff.

The plaintiff must be able to provide measurable loss and/or actual harm resulting from the defendant’s actions to succeed with their claim. In most motor vehicle accident cases, this is readily obvious in the form of vehicle repair costs, medical expenses for treatment of injuries, and lost income when victims are unable to work while they recover from their injuries. Finally, a plaintiff must be able to demonstrate that their damages would not have occurred but for the defendant’s negligence.

Most Common Causes of Car Accidents in California

Car accidents happen for several unpredictable causes every day throughout California. While some of these incidents occur due to unexpected hazards, others happen due to the negligence of other drivers. When you believe another driver is directly responsible for causing a car accident, you must be prepared to prove their accountability if you want to secure compensation for your losses. Some of the most commonly reported causes of car accidents in California that generate personal injury claims include:

  • Distracted driving, the most commonly cited cause of all motor vehicle accidents in the country each year.
  • Speeding, which significantly reduces the time and space a driver has to slow or stop to avoid a crash.
  • Moving violations, such as illegal turns or failure to stop at red lights. These actions often surprise other drivers and can easily lead to accidents in congested areas.
  • Reckless driving, such as intentionally disregarding traffic signals, performing dangerous maneuvers in congested traffic, or tailgating other drivers.
  • Driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol, which will lead to criminal prosecution of the drivers who cause accidents this way.

The exact methods used to determine fault for an accident vary based on the location and other details of the case. For example, traffic camera footage could prove that a driver’s moving violation directly caused the accident. Eyewitness testimony is also likely to come into play if other drivers saw the accident happen.

In the event you are seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident, you may not be able to gather much evidence on your own, and it will be up to your attorney to determine the best evidence available to support your recovery efforts. If you can move around safely after a crash, do not leave the scene until first responders arrive and allow you to do so. If possible, take photos of the damage to your vehicle, your injuries, and the placement of the vehicles on the road. Photos of other nearby details, like skid marks and debris from the crash, can be valuable in a subsequent insurance claim and/or personal injury suit.

Fault and Recovery in a Car Accident Dispute

Once you have determined fault for your recent car accident, you can proceed with an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy. You can also file a personal injury claim against them if their insurance cannot fully cover your losses. However, fault for the accident is a crucial factor in both actions. The investigation into your car accident will strongly affect subsequent insurance claims and personal injury claim proceedings.

California enforces a pure comparative negligence statute. This means that a plaintiff can still recover compensation for damages if they bear partial responsibility for causing those damages, but they lose a percentage of their case award to reflect their shared liability. Therefore, if you have any concerns about comparative fault coming into play in your upcoming car accident case, it’s vital to speak with an attorney as soon as possible about your legal options.

Perry Personal Injury Lawyers offers comprehensive and compassionate legal representation to victims of car accidents throughout the Encinitas, CA, area. We understand that you’re likely to have many important questions regarding your legal options after an accident someone else caused. The sooner you get the answers you need, the sooner you can take appropriate action toward securing compensation for your losses. If you are concerned about an impending car accident investigation or want to review your legal options with an experienced attorney, contact us today to schedule a consultation with our firm.