California has some of the busiest highways in the United States, making auto accidents a common occurrence. When auto accidents happen, it is usually because one or more drivers did not exercise the proper amount of care to avoid it. The following is an overview of California personal injury law and how fault is determined in an automobile accident.
Driving is a privilege and those who operate vehicles on the roadways must be careful to avoid an accident. However, when an accident occurs it can be difficult to prove who was at fault. In order to receive compensation for injuries sustained in automobile accidents, injured parties must be able to prove the other driver was negligent. Some examples of driver negligence include:
- Driving Over The Speed Limit
- Aggressive Driving During Road Rage Incidents
- Driving Too Slowly
- Failing To Yield The Right Of Way
- Driving While Intoxicated
- Making An Illegal Turn
- Following Another Vehicle Too Closely
- Not Signaling When Turning
- Being Distracted While Driving
- Knowingly Operating A Vehicle With A Defect
No Doubt Liability
Certain types of accidents are almost always the fault of one driver and the case is clear cut. In these instances, insurance companies do not argue who is at fault because it is obvious. Two examples of this type of accident are:
- Rear End Collisions
- Left Turn Accidents
California is a state with laws in place regarding comparative liability. This means that even if one driver is at fault, the amount of responsibility for the accident may be shared if the other driver was partially responsible for the accident.
How Is Fault Determined?
There are a variety of tools used by insurance companies and courts to determine who was at fault in an accident. This is why it is so important to be sure to obtain the proper documentation after an accident. Some things that help determine fault are:
In this day and age, almost every driver has a cell phone equipped to take pictures or video. Taking pictures of the accident and injuries sustained can go a long way toward proving fault if a dispute arises.
- Police Reports
The police should be called after any accident, no matter how minor. This is the best way to document the crash and have a police report filed. When an officer responds, he will observe the accident scene and interview both parties involved. They will issue an citations necessary and document that in the written report. The responding officer typically gives drivers the number of the police report for later use.
Protecting Your Rights
Immediately after an accident, there are ways drivers can protect their rights. While most drivers are shaken up, it is important to:
- Avoid Admitting Fault
- Seek Medical Attention
- Get The Other Drivers Information
- Call The Police
- Document The Scene
- Report To The Insurance Company
Hiring A Lawyer
While some accidents are cut-and-dried and fault is easily proven, others may be more problematic. In these cases, it is best to consult with a personal injury attorney who is experienced in automobile accident law. An attorney can help prove who was at fault by gathering the evidence, obtaining a copy of the police report and reviewing medical records. These are important skills if a lawsuit must be filed to obtain compensation for injuries sustained in the accident.
If you have been injured in a California automobile accident and are unsure who was at fault or need help protecting your rights, contact a personal injury lawyer for help. Since California has a 2 year statute of limitations on filing lawsuits for personal injury claims, it is best to consult an attorney promptly. Failure to do so may result in the inability to file a claim for compensation.