Car Accidents: Proving Fault
May 17, 2019
At-Fault for a Florida Car Accident
In every car accident, there is at least one person who may be considered “at-fault.” If you are injured in a car accident, proving that another person is at fault for causing the accident enables you to recover monetary damages from that person in a personal injury lawsuit or to collect money from that person’s car insurance carrier for injuries and property damage you sustain in the crash. While fault can be established in many accidents by invoking common sense, sometimes, it is not enough. Here are some ways those injured in a car accident can prove other drivers were at fault for the accident.
Drawing Attention to State Traffic Law Violations
One way to help prove fault in a car accident case is to review the traffic laws of the state in which the accident occurred. In Florida, traffic laws are codified in Title XXIII (“23”) of the Florida Statutes and are otherwise referred to as the Florida Uniform Traffic Control Law.
If you or another person observed another driver commit a violation of the Florida Uniform Traffic Control Law and an accident thereafter results, pointing to this violation can help to establish that the other driver was driving in a negligent or careless manner and this negligence or carelessness caused the accident. Common traffic violations which tend to establish fault of an accident include tailgating, failing to stop at a red light or stop sign, speeding, failing to properly use turn signals, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and failing to properly yield.
Reviewing and Using Police Reports
If a police officer responded to the accident you are involved in, odds are that police officer thereafter generated what is known as a police report. A police report is a written account created by a police officer that states the facts of an incident that the police officer responded to and sometimes includes the opinion of the police officer as to what he or she believes happened. In trying to prove that another driver was at fault for the accident, reviewing the police report may be beneficial. For instance, sometimes police officers will state in the police report that the other driver violated a traffic law and that they issued a citation to that driver. This piece of information can be used in an attempt to prove that is it more probable than not that the other driver, who was cited for disobeying traffic laws, caused the accident. Moreover, even if the police report does not contain information related to the other driver’s violation of traffic laws, it can include the police officer’s opinion as to who was at fault for causing the accident and whether one of the parties involved admitted to causing the accident. Such an opinion or admission may be enough to prove fault in some car accident cases.
“No-Doubt Liability” Scenarios
In certain types of car accidents, insurance companies or finders of fact of personal injury trials may rely on the manner in which the accident occurred to assign fault. Certain car accident scenarios almost always cause insurance companies or finders of fact to assign fault to a particular party. These scenarios are called no-doubt liability accidents. There are two types of no-doubt liability accidents that are recognized in Florida:
- Rear-end accidents
- Left turn accidents
When the front end of one driver’s car hits the rear end of another driver’s car while the former is following the later, i.e. a rear-end collision, it is almost always presumed that the driver who hit the car in front of him or her is at-fault for the accident. This is because traffic laws require drivers to maintain a safe distance from other cars so as to provide them with enough time to safely stop or slow down in accordance with traffic patterns. Thus, a person aiming to establish fault in this situation generally only needs to establish that the car driving behind him or her hit his or her own car. However, in rare circumstances, the other driver may be found to have caused the accident. For instance, if the lead driver slams on his or her brakes for no reason, or if the lead driver’s brakes lights are not working, then the lead driver and not the following driver may be considered at-fault for causing the accident.
Similarly, when a driver performing a left turn collides with a driver that is going straight, the driver performing the turn is almost always considered to have caused the accident. This is because traffic laws dictate that the driver performing the turn must wait until he or she has adequate time to perform the turn. Accordingly, showing that the accident is the product of a left-hand turn gone wrong may be enough to establish fault. However, in rare circumstances, the other driver may be considered at-fault for the accident. For example, if the other driver does not stop at a red light and the left turn driver then has the right-of-way, the other driver will be considered to have caused the accident.
Contact a Lake Worth Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Car Accident Case in Florida
Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries due to a car accident in Florida? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A. represent clients injured because of car accidents in Lake Worth, Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, Palm Beach, and throughout Florida. Call (561) 533-0345 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 813 Lucerne Avenue, Lake Worth, FL 33460, as well as an office in Pompano Beach.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.