Have you recently been involved in a car accident? If so, the first question to pop into your mind is typically, "who is at fault?" and "who is paying for the damages?" Determining who is at fault in not an exact science but there are certain tactics that can be used to prove liability. In many cases there can be two drivers at fault, in those cases you will have to go based on the percentage of negligence. He insurance companies are ultimately the ones who decide the liability of the driver's but with the help of an experienced Fort Myers personal injury lawyer your chances of obtaining compensation for damages will be far higher. There are several tricks to help determine liability in a car accident case, including:
- Check for any Traffic Violations or Infractions- If one driver ran through a red light, swerved over into your lane or was speeding at the time of the accidents, then this will act as proof of their negligence. If a law enforcement official is not present, you should be able to tell for yourself whether or not they committed a serious traffic infraction. If a violation of traffic law did occur, I can help you that to your advantage by establishing that their infraction was the cause of the entire accident.
- Look at the Location of Damage- By looking where the damage was incurred on the vehicles, you can typically tell you was at fault and at which angle the cars collided. In a rear-end collision, the person with damage to the front of their vehicle is typically at fault for the accident and is responsible to pay for the damages. In a T-bone accident, the driver with damage to the side of their vehicle is typically seen as the victim in the car crash. Then there are also left turn accidents- with these the driver making the left turn at the time is typically to blame.
- Look at the Statements from the Drivers- Reviewing the police reports is always a viable option. You can request a copy of the police report for your own records and you can look over the insurance claims to see if there was any statement that included admission of guilt. By reading over the other driver's statement you can check to see if they ever said, "I didn't see you," or "sorry for hitting you," then that can be taken as taking the blame.
- Utilize all Evidence and Witness Testimonies- Unfortunately, in most cases the driver who is at fault will never willingly admit blame for the accident. That is why it is vital that you take advantage of your other resources. At the time of the accident you should go around to any witnesses and take down their testimonies about how the accident occurred and how they think was at fault. Be sure to get their contact information, including their names and phone numbers. By asking them what they saw you may get the proof you need to determine liability. You should also take pictures of the accident and any other physical evidence before it is repaired or removed.
- Proving Prior Negligence- If the other driver had been drinking, driving without headlights, driving without their prescribed glasses, or failed to use their blinker while turning, then these are all signs of negligence that can help determine fault. When a driver is fails to follow the rules of the road and breaches that duty, that can be seen as driver negligence and could thereby be seen as the cause of the accident.
What happens If I am partially at fault?
Under Florida state law, even if you are partially at fault for the accident, you should still be able to recover a portion of the settlement. This is known as comparative negligence and this doctrine has also been adopted by 13 other states across the United States. With comparative negligence your awarded settlement will all depend on the percentage of negligence that you carry. For example, if you were found to be 10% at fault for the accident and the total settlement is worth $100,000 then that 10% would be deducted from the amount and you would only be awarded $90,000. This system is seen as being much more fair- with the old doctrine if a person was found to be at fault even in the slightest, then they were not able to recover compensation.
How a Fort Myers Injury Attorney Can Help
Dealing with the insurance companies can be such a headache and that is the last thing you will want to do after being involved in a car wreck. Our legal team has more than 18 years of experience handling personal injury cases and we can fight to seek justice and compensation on your behalf. Determining fault after a car accident is not always easy, we can help ensure that you receive the full settlement that you deserve. We have several investigation methods and effective tactics to help you hold the other driver accountable for their actions. If you would like to learn more about determining fault in a car accident case, please do not hesitate to contact our Fort Myers personal injury attorneys here at the firm. We offer a free initial consultation, so call us today at (239) 494-8568 to get started!