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The Importance of Evidence in Car Accident Claims

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Posted on August 18, 2023

In California, it matters who caused a car accident. Like many states, California has a fault-based insurance system that uses comparative negligence laws to allow injury victims to claim damages even if they were partly at fault in the accident. For example, if you’re found to be 20% at fault and your damages amount to $100,000, you can still recover $80,000. Unfortunately, insurance companies sometimes take advantage of an injury victim’s vulnerability after an accident and assign them a greater percentage of fault than they deserve in order to minimize the amount they have to pay out on damages. That’s why it’s important to have a skilled car accident lawyer on your side after an accident to gather evidence of liability.

If you were injured in an accident and the other driver’s negligence directly caused your injury, the burden of proof falls on the injury victim to prove the at-fault driver’s liability. Contact the San Diego personal injury lawyers at Haffner & Morgan today if you believe you have a case. 

Collecting Evidence of Liability After a Car Accident in California

An experienced car accident attorney in California has the skills and resources needed to gather evidence proving liability. Evidence is anything tangible that supports the facts of the case as well as eyewitness testimony and expert testimony. 

While a negligent driver is liable in most car accident claims, in some cases, liability rests with a third party, such as a road maintenance agency that failed to promptly address a road hazard or faulty traffic signal, or the manufacturer of a defective car part. A diligent attorney thoroughly investigates by doing the following:

  • Examining the police report of the accident
  • Getting the testimony of eyewitnesses
  • Examining photos
  • Finding and watching any available video from traffic cameras, dash cameras, and nearby surveillance footage
  • Examining the location where the accident occurred
  • Consulting accident reconstruction experts

When an attorney gathers ample evidence showing driver negligence or recklessness, or negligence on the part of a third party, they include it in a demand package sent to the insurance company of the at-fault party to make a compelling case for compensation of the victim’s damages.

Proving Liability in Car Accident Claims

The evidence a car accident attorney collects after a car accident helps an attorney demonstrate that the at-fault party meets the legal standard of liability, which includes the following:

  • That the at-fault party owed a duty of care to take reasonable measures to prevent injury to others, such as a driver’s duty to follow traffic laws and avoid distraction, or a road agency’s duty to properly maintain roads 
  • That the at-fault party breached this duty of care by an act of negligence or recklessness
  • That the negligent breach of duty directly caused an injury
  • That the injury victim suffered significant damages from the injury, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering

Because police budget their resources toward criminal cases, it’s typically a personal injury attorney’s job to gather evidence in a civil case.

Evidence of Your Damages In a Car Accident Claim

Whether you settle your claim out of court through direct negotiations between your car accident attorney and the insurance company of the party at fault or the case requires litigation in court—which happens in a small minority of cases—showing evidence that the injury victim suffered real damages due to the injury is essential to claim compensation. Evidence proving damages could include:

  • Medical records detailing the accident-related injuries, required treatment, and prognosis
  • Medical bills and invoices
  • Employer documents showing lost wages and tax forms showing the injury victim’s normal wages
  • Photos of the injuries
  • Eyewitness testimony describing the trauma of the crash
  • Testimony from recognized medical experts describing the pain level associated with the injury, how long the victim can expect to suffer pain, and their prognosis for the future, including their ability or inability to return to work

It’s essential to have supporting evidence for each aspect of a car accident claim, including liability and damages. An experienced San Diego car accident attorney has sharply honed investigative skills as well as the ability to present the evidence in a compelling way to maximize compensation for accident victims.