Unfortunately, car accidents are a common occurrence. In 2020, there were over 54,000 vehicle accidents in the United States. And if being in a car accident isn’t traumatic enough, determining who was at fault for the accident can add an extra layer of stress and uncertainty.
In some cases, the fault is apparent. For example, in a rear-end collision, the rear driver is typically always at fault. However, sometimes it’s not that easy to prove who was at fault. If you weren’t at fault, proving that is in your best interest.
Many factors can be used to determine the fault when it isn’t apparent. This article will discuss how California determines fault in an accident and six ways to prove that you were not at fault in a car accident.
Proving Fault in California
In California, who was at fault in a car accident can be proven in two ways. One is to show the other driver was negligent under common law, and the other is to prove statutory negligence, meaning that the other driver violated the California Vehicle Code or another law.
To establish that the other driver was negligent under the rules of common law, you must prove:
- Duty of Care — Every driver is responsible for operating their vehicle with reasonable care. All drivers must obey traffic law, drive safe and responsibly, avoid injuring others, and be mindful of road conditions.
- Breach of Duty — Did the other driver act as a reasonable person would act in the situation they were in? If the answer is no, you can prove breach of duty.
- Causation — The cause of the accident was because of the other driver’s breach of duty.
- Damage — The accident caused a monetary loss or physical or mental injury.
Statutory negligence is easier to prove. The police report from the accident will generally state if a driver violated any traffic laws. If this is the case, they are considered negligent with no additional evidence, also known as negligent “per se.” If this is the case, it is up to the other driver to prove that they weren’t negligent.
Ways to Prove Fault
Having the proper evidence to provide the insurance company when seeking a settlement is essential. Here are some ways you can prove fault in a car accident.
#1. Evidence from the Accident
Collect as much evidence as possible from the accident site. You will need this evidence to prove that you aren’t at fault during your case.
Take as many photos as possible of the damage to the vehicles and the area where the accident occurred. If you have been injured, ask a bystander to take as many pictures as possible of the accident. These photos will be vital evidence during the investigation.
#2. Exchange Information With the Other Driver
Be sure to exchange contact information with the other driver. Exchanging information doesn’t so much prove fault, but you will need the other driver’s insurance information when filing a claim for the accident.
#3. Find Witnesses
If anyone was around to see the accident, getting their information can be vital for your case. Not only should you get their witness statement, but you should also exchange contact information with them. Their unbiased testimony can be valuable when proving fault.
#4. Review Traffic Laws
Traffic laws vary from state to state. Researching local traffic laws can help you better understand who was at fault.
#5. Get a Copy of the Police Report
After an accident, your first call should be to the police. When the officers arrive on the scene, they will speak to all involved to gather information for their accident report.
The accident report outlines what happened in the accident and any conclusions officers made regarding who was at fault. The police report can be used as evidence for legal proceedings or insurance claim purposes.
#6. Don’t Admit Fault
A car accident can quickly become a serious legal matter. If you even hint to the other driver, police, or the insurance company that you may be at fault, your credibility will be questioned, and you risk implying that you were at fault in the accident. Avoid this by not speaking to anyone except your attorney about what happened at the accident.
Let Hann Law Firm Help With Your Car Accident Case
Trying to negotiate a settlement with an insurance company can be challenging after you’ve been in an accident. If you have been involved in an accident and need legal advice on how to prove that you weren’t at fault, turn to Hann Law Firm.
Whatever legal challenge you’re facing, you can depend on the dedicated, skilled attorneys at Hann Law Firm to walk you through the legal process. From your initial consultation, we will listen to your needs and concerns and work with you to address your specific challenges. Then, we will diligently prepare your case and get you the best possible outcome to help you reach your goals.
You and your case matter to us. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.