If you were injured in a car accident, you will need to prove the other driver acted negligently and caused your crash. By proving fault, you can hold that party legally responsible for your losses and expenses. You can recover compensation through an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.
Sometimes, you may also need to prove you are not at fault in a car accident. The at-fault party and their insurer may accuse you of contributing to the crash. This could affect your financial recovery. An attorney may be able to address these accusations so that they are less harmful to your case.
Proving Fault and Liability After a Crash
To prove the other driver’s careless or reckless actions caused your crash and injuries, you must understand the four elements of negligence. You will need evidence to confirm each of these to hold the other driver legally responsible and recover compensation. The four elements are:
- The other party had a duty to do or not do something to keep you safe, usually following traffic laws
- They failed to act as obligated, violating the law
- This directly led to your collision
- You suffered recoverable damages, usually physical and emotional harm, and financial losses
As an example, imagine the other driver approached a stop sign. Like other motorists, they have a legal obligation to stop. However, they failed to do so. They collided with you as you crossed the intersection, hitting the side of your vehicle and causing your injuries. The evidence you might use to prove this includes:
- The accident report filed by the responding police officer
- A survey of the crash scene
- Witness statements
- Accident reconstruction
- Video footage from a nearby gas station
- Photographs from the accident scene
- Your relevant medical records
The goal of gathering, analyzing, and organizing this evidence is to tell a compelling story about how the at-fault driver’s traffic violations caused the crash and your injuries. Working with experienced car accident lawyers makes this process easier and allows you to focus on healing.
Each type of car accident has its own evidence and necessary steps to document what happened. Some things, such as police reports, are common in all collisions. Auto accident lawyers know how to manage these investigations and show proof of negligence and liability in all types of crashes, including:
- Rear-end collisions
- Left-turn accidents
- Head-on collisions
- Side-swipe incidents
- Other accidents caused by negligent drivers
Documenting Damages for Your Car Accident Claim
You will also need to prove the value of your case before you file your claim. This requires additional evidence. You can recover many types of expenses and losses you experienced because of the crash and your injuries. This includes both economic and non-economic costs. However, you must show you suffered these damages to recover fair compensation. You will need to document your recoverable damages, including:
- Medical treatment costs
- Future care expenses
- Lost wages
- Diminished earning capacity
- Property damages
- Pain and suffering
The evidence commonly used to document fair compensation in car accident cases includes:
- Medical bills
- Pay stubs and documentation of time missed at work
- Receipts for related expenses
- Estimates for car repair or proof of replacement cost
- Expert testimony, including doctors and economists
- Evidence to document pain or impairments
For a free legal consultation, call (800) 537-8185
What Should I Do If I Am Accused of Shared Fault in a Traffic Accident?
If the insurance company or liable party accuses you of causing or sharing the fault in the collision, you may want to enlist an attorney’s help. This is especially true if you are in a state like Alabama, which follows the pure contributory negligence doctrine. Most other states use some form of comparative negligence laws, which affect how much you might recover after a crash.
Sharing fault in a collision can significantly affect your financial recovery. States approach this in different ways. In Louisiana (La. Civ. Code Art. 2323) and Mississippi (Miss. Code Ann. § 11-7-15), anyone involved in a crash can sue the other party. However, they can only recover compensation reduced by the percentage of fault they shared. For example, if the court determines they are:
- 20 percent at fault in the crash, they can recover up to 80 percent of their losses
- 49 percent at fault in an accident, only 51 percent of their losses are recoverable
Arkansas takes a similar approach, but Ark. Code Ann. § 16-64-122 bars you from seeking damages if you are 51 percent or more at fault in a crash. In Alabama, however, the pure contributory negligence doctrine states that you cannot recover any damages if you played a role in causing the collision. The Supreme Court of Alabama affirmed this in Golden v. McCurry (1980).
You must have strong evidence that shows the other driver caused the collision and is alone responsible for what happened. Your lawyer may have ways to mitigate the effect of any allegations against you or take additional steps to prove you are not at fault. You likely have legal options for getting a fair settlement or payout after a crash; it just may take valuable evidence, documenting crucial details, and representation from a lawyer.
Working with an Attorney Makes the Car Accident Claims Process Easier for You
While it is OK and relatively common for people to manage their car accident claims on their own, it is usually a stressful, time-consuming, and complicated process. Working with a personal injury law firm and an attorney can make the claims process easier to navigate. In some cases, it also means recovering more money.
When you have a car accident lawyer on your case, you do not have to worry about it. You can focus on healing and recovery while they investigate the crash, gather evidence, prove fault, and seek damages. Most personal injury firms provide complimentary consultations and work on contingency. There are no upfront costs for hiring an attorney to manage your case.
Speak with an Attorney at Morris Bart, LLC, for Free Today
If you were hurt in a car accident in the Gulf South, the Morris Bart law firm is here to help. We provide free initial consultations with a personal injury attorney representing crash victims in your area. Our attorneys serve Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas. Contact us for your free case review with a lawyer on our team.
Questions?Call (800) 537-8185
to find a Morris Bart office near you.