How Do You Know Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident?
If you are in a serious car accident in New Jersey, fault becomes a major issue. As a victim of the accident, you cannot collect any compensation unless someone else is at fault. If the court decides that you are also to blame, the compensation you might collect is reduced in proportion to your share of fault. And, if your share of the fault is greater than 50 percent, you cannot collect any compensation. For these reasons, proving fault is the most important aspect of your case. But how can you, or your attorney, prove that another driver was at fault?
The good news is that a car accident lawsuit uses a lower standard of proof than a criminal trial. You don’t have to prove fault beyond a reasonable doubt, but only by a preponderance of the evidence. That means you must present evidence that argues strongly for your side, making it “more likely than not” that events transpired the way you say. Evidence you might present includes:
- Police reports — Cops responding to the scene of an accident record pertinent facts. The report may contain errors, but there might also be very useful information.
- Photos of the scene — It’s always a good idea to take photos of the scene, if you are able. These can greatly aid in accident reconstruction.
- Physical evidence — Accident reconstruction experts look at the damage to the vehicles, the debris field, skid marks, road conditions and other aspects of the accident scene to recreate the sequence of events that led to the crash.
- Videos — Occasionally, an accident victim can get very lucky and discover that witnesses with cellphones, neighborhood surveillance cameras or red light cameras have captured the accident.
- Eyewitness accounts — Although psychologists contend that eyewitness accounts are unreliable, some witnesses give very credible testimony that can sway a case.
- Cellphone records — Many car accidents occur due to distractions. Once you file a lawsuit, your attorney can subpoena the other driver’s cellphone records to see if he or she was speaking or texting just prior to the accident.
- Driver’s statements — A statement a driver makes at the scene is admissible evidence. In court, “I’m so sorry this happened” could be interpreted as an admission of fault.
Once the evidence is found, it must be woven into a compelling narrative that convinces a judge or jury. An experienced attorney plays a vital role by unfolding evidence in court in a manner that delivers the maximum possible impact.
For help proving fault in your auto accident case, call Seigel Law at 201.444.4000 or contact us online. We offer free consultations to injured clients in Bergen County and throughout New Jersey.