It’s natural not to want to feel responsible for causing a car accident, especially when the accident caused significant damage to another car or person. Unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon for people to tell “white lies,” fabricate, or even over exaggerate what really happened in a car accident. This is why you have heard that you should take some precautions after an incident, for example, taking photos.
You won’t be able to control how the other party will tell the story of what happened. All you can control is how you handle your own situation and work to correct their lies with your own set of facts. These facts are better stated as “evidence” in your car accident case and will help prove what really happened.
Insurance companies know that people lie in car accident litigation, so don’t get too concerned that the insurance company will believe them over you.
The end game of these cases is really to prove negligence, and if you can prove that, you are already sitting back in the driver’s seat.
Proving Negligence in a Car Accident Case
As one of the parties involved in a car accident, and if you believe you’re not the cause of it but someone else is, the responsibility lies with you to prove their negligence. This is a four-part process involving evidentiary support for why you believe the other person is responsible.
- Duty of Care – This is something that all of us practice every time we participate in an activity (like driving) where we take responsibility for our actions. We pay attention to the task at hand so as not to bring harm to something or someone else as a result of our actions. In a car accident, this “contract” is understood between all person driving on the roadways despite not having an actual contract with one another. More simply, we all respect and trust that we will take care of how we drive or operate a vehicle. This is referred to as “operation of law.”
- Breach of Duty – A plaintiff (that will likely be you) must provide facts to reveal how the other party (defendant) breached his/her duty of care. You must show how they acted negligently in taking reasonable care in what is considered a social contract among everyday citizens. Some things to consider in a car accident, could the other party have anticipated their actions would bring harm? Could that person have taken another course of action to prevent the crash from happening? Did the person do anything to prevent the accident from happening?
- Causation – This is merely the relationship between cause and effect. What did the defendant do, meaning the other driver, to cause the accident? This might not always be clear in the beginning, but if you work with a car accident lawyer, they can help you prove this by collecting specific data.
- Damages – Finally, you’ll also need to prove what you have lost as a result of the accident. This is referred to as damages and can mean a couple of different things. Your “damages” are considered “injuries” and can be physical, emotional and mental. If you bring a suit against another party in a car accident, you’ll need to prove your damages which a legal professional can help you demonstrate.
The Role of Evidence in a Car Accident Case
Evidence plays a major role in how you will prove your car accident case, especially when someone is lying about what happened. You’ll want to make sure your evidence is protected, and an attorney can help you do that. Here are the primary functions of evidence in your car accident case.
- Show Damages – You have to prove damages as a result of the car accident in order for the insurance company to settle with you or compensate you appropriately. You’ll need evidence that, for example, back up that your car was damaged. You’ll need to provide proof that you’ve been traumatized over the accident or have lost wages as a result. Without evidence of damages an insurance company, or judge, isn’t likely going to side in your favor.
- Prove Fault – As we discussed above, negligence is how you will prove fault. This is one of the harder aspects of car accident cases and even more significant if the other person isn’t being truthful. It seems counterintuitive that a victim would bear the burden to prove this kind of information, but our legal system is set up that all persons are innocent until proven guilty, which really does serve the greater good. Your car accident lawyer will work with you to determine ways to show fault in your specific claim.
- Establish Correct Compensation – Another important (but less talked about reason) evidence is vital in a car accident case is to establish compensation. Keeping records and documents throughout your car accident claims process will prove to help you receive the right compensation. Your attorney will be able to use that information to process and calculate what is fair and reasonable to ask the insurance company. But, without that proof, it will be difficult to see the appropriate damages for your case.
Types of Evidence For a Car Accident Case
Now that you better understand the role of evidence in your claim, let’s talk about the most helpful proof you can use to demonstrate that the other person might be lying about their account of the accident.
- Witness Testimony – One of the most powerful pieces of evidence in a car accident is witness testimony. Not only can this disprove a liar, but can also reveal the truth in your story maximizing your credibility among the legal parties or a judge. You and your lawyer should attempt to connect with anyone who witnessed the car accident to see if they can offer support for your claims about what happened.
- Photographs and Video – Another powerful tool in your evidence toolbox will be photos and video of the accident and/or aftermath. An insurance company is far more apt to settle with you when you have images of the wrecked vehicle or evidence of your injuries from the hospital. This can include images or video from others who may have captured what happened, either by chance or because they were also involved somehow.
- Surveillance – We live in a world where we are rarely alone, and while that may sound a little “big brother-like” the truth is there is surveillance everywhere these days. Your car accident attorney can seek out surveillance video from either businesses near the accident site or from homes that may have cameras at their front doors. Video from red-light cameras may also be available and can help prove your story.
- Accident Report – It is always recommended that you call law enforcement in a car accident case, even for minor fender benders. Law enforcement officials are trained in assessing how accidents happen which can significantly support your account of what happened during the crash.
- Medical Records – When it comes to your medical records, your attorney will likely advise you to hold on to all of your medical paperwork and physical evidence. This can include prescriptions and assessments of your injuries, but also include things like empty medication bottles and braces you were given to help you heal.
- Loss of Income – You and your car accident lawyer will work together to learn about what you have lost in income as a result of your accident. This evidence will be needed to justify what you are asking for as far as compensation. You will need items like pay stubs and work contracts, to help you illustrate what you are currently losing or stand to lose in income, as you go through the accident process.
- Expert Resources – When there are no witnesses to your car accident, one way a lawyer can help you prove your case is to work with an accident specialist. This will only be helpful in some situations, but it’s worth having a conversation about with your attorney to see if it applies to your particular accident claim.
- Private Investigations – Sometimes, when evidence is harder to obtain, an attorney will work with a private investigator to help them prove your case. An example of this is if you are involved in a commercial truck accident. These vehicles and companies tend to be ready to fight accident cases and can often use tactics to stall or misdirect your claims. It’s not uncommon for a trucking company to lose information or suggest they don’t have access to something when they actually do. A private investigator can help uncover these untruthful matters.
When you are fighting a car accident case, the last thing you want to deal with is someone else being untruthful about what happened.
If you and your car accident attorney use this information, together you can work to correct the injustice. Don’t be afraid to compile as much information on your own or ask an attorney to help. They have access to resources and ways to make others comply that you simply do not have the legal authority to do.