How to Prove Who is at Fault in a Car Accident

Author: Mesriani Law Group
Posted on: May 10, 2019

Car crashes constitute a large sum of annual deaths and injuries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost 1.25 million lives are claimed by accidents on the road every year, while an additional 20 to 50 million suffer mild or disabling injuries. Road accidents account for 2.2% of fatalities worldwide, ranking ninth in the list of the most common causes of death.

In America, car accidents give rise to over 37,000 deaths and 2.35 million cases of injuries. Half of the recorded fatalities are found to be drivers, while 17 percent make up passengers, 16 percent were pedestrians, and 14 percent were motorcyclists. Traffic collisions can result in emotional distress, wrongful death and other grave consequences along with physical injuries. Furthermore, those involved in these accidents are set back financially by an average of $820 per person in damages, costing the United States more than $230 billion a year.

Car Accidents in California

A car accident occurs when a vehicle collides with another automobile, person, animal, or another object which results in property damage, injuries, or death. Twelve percent of vehicular-related fatalities in the United States come from California. Despite technological advancements in automobile safety, the statistical data point to an increasing trend of road accidents in the state, with numbers peaking during nighttime and on weekends.

Out of the many counties in California, Los Angeles is deemed the most dangerous since it has the most number of deaths and injuries from traffic collisions. More than 80,000 cases were reported to have happened in 2018, beating its record the year before.

What are the Common Causes of Car Accidents?

There are a variety of factors that put drivers and pedestrians at higher risk of getting involved in a car accident. Negligence refers to all forms of driving that are considered reckless and threaten the safety of people on the road. The most common kinds of negligent driving in California are as follows:

  • Speeding. Going over the speeding limit significantly diminishes one’s reaction time and ability to maneuver out of risky situations. This practice resulted in over 48,000 deaths in California in 2013.
  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI). Thirty-nine percent (39%) of car crash fatalities in California involve drivers who have consumed alcohol or drugs. Those with blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least 0.04% are considered to be driving under the influence.
  • Distracted Driving. The use of mobile phones, talking to a passenger, configuring the radio, and performing other activities that are unrelated to driving cause one’s attention to be taken off the road. In 2007, there were more than 4,000 wrongful deaths because of distracted drivers.
  • Poor Maneuvering. Poorly executed turns, bad merging, drifting out of a lane, and other driving errors also contribute to annual car accident deaths and injuries.

California Traffic Laws

Acceptable driving behavior and responsible automobile ownership are regulated by the California Vehicle Code (CVC). Under Section 17150 of the CVC, both blatant and unintentional disregard of traffic rules resulting in death, injury, or damages is punishable by law.

Section 20001 states that should a driver get involved in a traffic collision resulting in death or injury of another, he or she is obliged to stop at the scene to fulfill Sections 20003 and 20004 accordingly. The former stipulates said driver to give his or her personal information (e.g., full name, current place of residence, etc.) to the passengers of the other vehicle and report the same to a law enforcement officer, as well as provide whatever assistance is requested by the injured that will lead to necessary medical treatment. Meanwhile, the latter requires an able-bodied passenger to report cases of death to the nearest office of the Department of the California Highway Patrol immediately.

Car accidents that only result in property damage likewise require drivers to stop and provide information regarding his or her identity. Should the owner be out of sight, it is the driver’s responsibility to leave a written notice of the accident together with his or her details in a conspicuous place as well as report to the nearest police department. Fleeing the scene of the crime and failing to comply with the obligations mentioned warrant imprisonment on top of fines.

Proving Fault in a Car Accident

Whether you’re seeking compensation from your insurance company or another driver involved, proving who is at fault for the car accident is vital. Not only does it clear your name of any blame but also dictates how much you would get in damages. Here are a few useful steps when it comes to proving fault in a car accident:

Assess the Nature of the Accident

Some car accidents are more telling in terms of who is at fault more than others. Rear-end collisions, for example, are typically caused by drivers who do not leave enough stopping distance for the vehicle that they are trailing behind. While the operator in front could share the blame (e.g., having defective brake lights), traffic laws would often side with them as it is one’s responsibility to be fully attentive to everything happening on the road.

Assigning fault to left-turn collisions is also somewhat predetermined. A driver who is making a left turn is expected to move with respect to oncoming traffic, making it his or her fault in case of an accident. It must be proven that the oncoming car was speeding or ignored a red light to determine that the other party is at fault.

If you are well enough to step outside of your car after an accident, examine the scene and take note of pertinent details that may help your case such as taking pictures of the collision.

Secure CCTV Footage

Video surveillance is one of the most definitive pieces of evidence you can gather to strengthen your claim. Closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems are often stationed at checkpoints and can also be scattered throughout long stretches of road. Request for CCTV footage of the car accident if it is available in the area. Doing so can precisely show how the collision unfolded and those who were involved.

Double-Check Police Reports

Make sure to check the official police report before leaving the police station as officers would most likely take some time to get to the scene of the accident and wouldn’t be able to capture every detail of the accident accurately. Go over the document to ensure all the facts check out, especially the part which states who is at fault. Minor details such as license plate numbers and contact details can easily be changed, but factual errors take more time to iron out. Do not wait until court hearings and insurance investigations to begin before you verify what is stated in the report as it could spell the difference between getting a large claim or walking out empty-handed.

Seek the Help of a Traffic Accident Attorney

Car accidents are unfortunate occurrences that bring about great distress to anyone involved. Apart from physical and emotional damages, it is undeniable that traffic collisions cost a considerable sum, especially if you cannot claim proper compensation. It is best to hire an experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in traffic accidents to handle these situations.

Mesriani Law Group houses the most brilliant lawyers in the field who will help you through this challenging time with unparalleled expertise and compassion. We abide by a No Win No Fee policy to ensure you get the best legal service in Los Angeles. Contact our firm today for a free consultation and proper legal assistance.