How Do You Know Who is At Fault in a Car Accident?
Anyone can be involved in a vehicular accident. There were over 385,000 car crashes in Georgia alone in 2018, with over 19,000 of these crashes resulting in injuries and over 1,500 resulting in fatalities. You need to be prepared to know what to do if you are ever involved in a collision. This includes figuring out exactly which driver is at fault. Determining liability in a car accident matters because the person at fault is responsible for paying the other party’s damages. But how do you prove who is and isn’t responsible for a collision? Contact the Don Turner Legal Team if you were involved in a car accident and have questions about liability.
Establishing Negligence in a Car Accident
Determining who is at fault in a car accident means establishing negligence. There are several specific requirements that must be fulfilled for a person to be found negligent under Georgia law. First, there is the existence of a duty of care. In this case, all motorists have a duty to be reasonably careful not to harm pedestrians or get into collisions. By obeying traffic laws and following the rules of the road, a motorist is exercising their duty of care.
Next, for negligence to exist, the duty of care must have been breached – the at-fault motorist operated their vehicle in a way that did not consider other motorists or pedestrians, such as running a red light. Furthermore, the breach of that duty served as the “proximate cause” of the accident. In other words, there is a direct line between the at-fault driver disregarding the rules of the road and causing a collision. Finally, the resulting accident must have caused actual damages, such as injuries to another motorist or damage to another vehicle.
There are situations where the court will find both drivers involved in a collision were at fault in some way. Because Georgia is a modified comparative negligence state, this can cause problems for your personal injury case. If you are found to be more than 50 percent at fault for the accident, you will not recover any damages at all. While you can file a claim if you are under that threshold, your damages will be garnished by an amount proportional to your liability.
What does this mean for your ability to recover? Essentially, if you are held 49% responsible for the motor vehicle accident you were in, you will only receive 51% of the actual damages. This can have a devastating effect on your case, especially if you have medical bills to pay. This is why you need to hire an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney as soon as possible.
How Can You Prove Liability?
Even if the other driver’s fault is clear-cut, their insurance company might still try to place the blame on you in order to reduce your claim. Thankfully, there are steps you can take immediately after the accident that can help keep this from happening. Make sure to take pictures of the accident and get the contact information of the other driver, as well as any witnesses present at the scene. Ask the police where you can get a copy of the accident report, which can contain valuable information that can help prove the other driver was at fault.
These days, many vehicles are equipped with Event Data Recorders, otherwise known as “black boxes”. Your vehicle’s black box begins recording all sorts of data about the operation of your vehicle the moment you get behind the wheel. This includes brake usage, travel speed, and blinker usage. This data can be retrieved after a collision and can be used to help courts determine which vehicle was ultimately responsible for said collision.
It has become more and more common for drivers to install dash cams in their vehicles. If the other driver’s insurance company is blaming you for an accident that is not your fault, your dash cam footage may be able to help you out. Your dash cam footage can help show the court how you handled yourself on the road and whether or not you were exercising your duty of care as a motorist. If you do not have a dash cam in your vehicle yet, you should consider getting one.
Don’t Forget About Liability Insurance
Even if you are able to prove the other driver is at fault, there is one other complication you need to keep in mind – they may not have insurance. 12.4% of all Georgia motorists do not carry any kind of liability insurance at all, and still more only carry the minimum possible coverage of $25,000.00. You will not be able to rely on the other driver’s insurance company to pay your damages in this case. Suing the at-fault driver is a possibility, but someone who is unable to afford liability insurance is unlikely to be able to cover your damages.
Fortunately, uninsured and underinsured motorists coverage can help keep this from being an issue. It is cheap to add to your policy, costing about 10 to 20 dollars a month, and will help you pay for any medical bills or property damage caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver.
The Don Turner Legal Team also advises you to carry a minimum of $100,000.00 of liability insurance coverage and ideally more, if you can afford to do so. This will help you save on out of pocket costs if you are ever involved in an auto accident.
Contact Our Auto Accident Lawyers Today
Being involved in a car accident can be a scary, stressful experience, especially when the carelessness of another driver caused your injuries. Fortunately, there are several ways you can prove that the other driver is liable for your accident. Again, remember that under Georgia law, if the court decides you are at least 50 percent at fault for your accident, you will not recover any damages. Don’t let this happen to you – call our experienced personal injury attorneys today and let us help you get the compensation you deserve.