The 4-Step Process to Proving
Fault in an Auto Accident
An auto accident can
happen in a blink of an eye. Both parties can be understandably shaken and
fault can quickly become a finger-pointing game. If you’ve been injured in an
auto accident and you believe the other party was at fault, it’s crucial to
contact a trusted personal injury attorney who can review the circumstances
surrounding the accident and fight on your behalf. The law breaks it down into
4 simple steps that must be shown to prove fault in these situations.
Step One: First, it must be shown that a duty exists. In the case of auto-related accidents, a duty exists on the part of a driver to follow the rules of the road and maintain adequate care of one’s vehicle. A driver has a duty to operate a vehicle in a safe manner so as not to injury other drivers, passengers, or pedestrians.
Step Two: Next, it must be shown that there has been a breach of that duty. A “breach” means that the driver did not safely operate the vehicle or follow the rules of the road. Either constitutes a breach of duty.
Step Three: Then, one must show that any injuries suffered were the result of the driver’s failure to operate the vehicle safely or follow the rules of the road known as the breach of duty. Another legal way to say this is that the “breach of the duty” was the “proximate cause” of the injuries.
Step Four: Lastly, it must be proven that damages were incurred as a result of the injury. Sometimes we may be injured but there are no damages. So not all accidents result in a financial recovery for injuries. An injured person can show that they have “damages” through financial or other loss related to the injury such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Let’s illustrate this process using the example of a rear-end collision. The driver behind a vehicle has a duty to maintain a safe distance between himself and the car in front of him. He breached that duty by following too closely. This act resulted in a rear-end collision. This caused the driver in the front vehicle to have whiplash when the crash occurred and as a result of the crash (the proximate cause). Because of the whiplash, the driver was forced to take time off work to visit doctors and physical therapists in order to recover. This resulted in medical bills and lost wages, in addition to the pain and suffering from the whiplash injury. This now creates a situation where the injured person can sue to recover these damages.
Of course, not all
accidents or situations are as clear as the example above. Some situations can
be more of a grey area when deciding who is responsible and who is liable.
Often parties argue over the events in Steps 2 and 3. Insurance companies
covering drivers who cause injuries often argue over Steps 3 and 4. How can you
protect yourself and build your case? Make sure you contact the police to
investigate and complete a police report. Take photos of the accident scene,
including the damages to the vehicles and the surrounding area. If possible,
make sure to get contact information for any eye-witnesses who could give
statements on your behalf.
Having an experienced
attorney on your side can make all the difference. The attorneys at VanDerGinst
Law P.C. can assist you with proving fault in an auto accident, including obtaining
statements from witnesses, monitoring your medical care and collecting all
necessary medical records, and even hiring a medical expert or an accident
reconstructionist to assist in establishing the value of your claim.
If you are the victim
of an auto accident, contact VanDerGinst Law today. The
consultation is always free and there are no attorney fees unless we win your
case. If you suffered an injury in Iowa or Illinois, contact VanDerGinst Law
P.C. at 800-960-8529 or request a free consultation.
The information contained on this website is presented by VanDerGinst Law P.C. It is not intended nor should it be construed as professional legal advice. The information is general in nature about the Firm, the scope of services we offer, and our community outreach, it is not legal advice. Please contact us by phone, email, mail, or via this website for inquiries. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a personal injury attorney for a consultation regarding your situation. This website is not intended to solicit clients outside the State of Iowa and/or State of Illinois.