Proving Fault After a Car Accident

According to a recent report in Insurance Journal automakers are projecting that self-driving cars could be on U.S. roads as soon as 2020. As exciting as this advancement may sound, there are plenty of issues to consider, namely who would be at fault if a self-driving car crashes.

Even now, with state law requiring for a licensed driver to be behind the wheel of a car, fault is hard to prove.

Fault or liability is dependent on determining whose carelessness or negligence is to blame for the car accident.

After an auto accident there are two defenses that need to be weighed: comparative and contributory negligence. These two defenses determine the degree to which either driver is at fault for the crash and how much monetary compensation each driver will provide to cover damages.

Comparative Negligence

Essentially comparative negligence ascribes a percentage of the blame to both parties.

For example if Jane and John get into an accident, John may claim that Jane rear-ended him and therefore owes him compensation for the damage to his vehicle.

Jane may counter with a comparative negligence defense, stating that John was illegally double-parked and his car should have never been in her lane, saddling him with some of the responsibility.

When the case reaches trial the jury may find that John sustained $10,000 worth of damages to his car, but was also 40% liable for the accident. Comparative negligence rules deem that Jane must pay John $6,000 in damages ($10,000 less the 40% he is responsible for).

Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence which is followed in Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington D.C, states that if the defendant can prove any percentage of liability on the plaintiffs behalf, the plaintiff loses all rights to compensation.

Whether your state follows contributory negligence rules or comparative negligence, there are do’s and don’ts of fault.

Even if you really believe that it was your fault, keep it to yourself. Stick to the facts in your conversations with the other driver and the passengers.

Here are a few quick tips as to what you shouldn’t talk about after a car accident:

  • Don’t ask the other driver how fast he or she was going
  • Don’t agree to settlement terms without speaking to an attorney
  • Don’t talk about the accident or how it happened unless you are required to do so
  • Don’t apologize for anything as it could be considered evidence that you were at fault

And these are some things that you definitely should do:

  • Do call the police
  • Do take photographs
  • Do be honest to the police
  • Do seek medical attention
  • Do seek legal help from an experienced attorney

Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer

If you’re worried about having to pay damages after an auto accident, a lawyer could help you sift through your case and identify the proper evidence to prove fault. Remember there are two types of negligence that you could claim and an experienced attorney from 1-800-THE-LAW2 can help you get the compensation you deserve.