In the context of auto accidents, California is a fault-based state. In these types of states, the driver who is determined to have caused an accident must pay the damages. Those would include both property and personal injury damages. In the majority of California auto accidents, it’s usually the insurer of the driver who is determined to be at fault that pays for those damages. As California car accident lawyers, we make our own determination as to fault for an auto accident. Here is some of the evidence that we examine:
- The Police Report: Ventura County Sheriffs and local officers are trained to investigate accidents, and they’re trained to do so objectively. Rarely are they at the location of the accident when it occurred, but they’ve been taught to ask the right questions and obtain relevant information. Police officers are also credible witnesses in court. Jurors tend to place great weight on a police officer’s testimony.
- Statements at the Accident Scene: The parties to an accident are almost always asked to give the investigating police officer their version of how the accident occurred. These are often found in the narrative portions of accident reports. Drivers who are at fault often make statements that operate against their interests. For example, a driver might tell the officer that he or she couldn’t see a red light because of all of the other lights surrounding their field of view.
- Statements of Other Witnesses: The drivers of the vehicles might have had passengers with them. Police officers routinely ask them for their version of how an accident occurred. Passenger statements are usually contained in the accident report.
- Independent Witnesses: An eyewitness might remain at the scene and volunteer information to police. That person’s identity, contact information and version of events is also ordinarily noted in a police accident report.
- Camera Footage: Traffic cameras and dashboard cameras might provide the most objective rendition of how an accident occurred. Areas can even be scoured for any security camera footage. Judges routinely allow such footage into evidence so long as a proper evidentiary foundation is laid. An entire case can turn on a police officer’s testimony and confirmatory camera footage.
The law of comparative negligence is a partial affirmative defense that is often raised by defendants in car accident cases. The parties to an accident might share fault. For example, one driver might be 80% at fault while the other driver shares 20%. When comparative negligence is found, damages are reduced accordingly. Given an 80% and 20% determination, on a $100,000 case, a claimant’s award would be reduced to $80,000. Not just in Ventura County, but the State of California is known as a pure comparative negligence state. A claimant can be determined to be more than 50% at fault and still obtain a recovery.
A fault determination is pivotal to any auto accident when a claimant is seeking compensation for damages. Insurance companies and attorneys rely heavily on the results of investigations. If you were the victim of an accident, and you’re seeking a preliminary fault determination, contact a personal injury attorney for a free consultation and case review. You may be eligible to be compensated for your damages. We can be of assistance with that too.
For further information, please read more about auto accidents or contact Quirk Accident & Injury Attorneys today!