Proving fault in a car accident claim usually involves a thorough investigation, gathering evidence like photographs and videos of the accident scene, police reports, and witness statements, and consultation with a car accident attorney. Knowing how to prove fault in a car accident case is essential to obtaining compensation for your losses.
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Illinois Car Accident Laws
Illinois is an at-fault or fault-based state. The driver who is at fault for the accident pays for the vehicle damage, injuries, and other forms of harm suffered by other accident victims, typically through his or her insurer. Therefore, if you suffer injuries in an accident in Lake County caused by a distracted driver, you have the right to file a claim for damages with the driver’s insurance company. With regard to who pays for medical bills after a car accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company should pay them. However, since your claim could take months to settle, you could rely on your health insurance in the meantime.
Every driver could face liability for an accident. As a result, all Illinois drivers are required to purchase and maintain insurance policies that meet the state’s minimum liability coverage requirements. A claimant must prove that the driver whose policy he or she is filing a claim against was at fault for the crash.
Fault for a car accident isn’t always clear. Two or more parties can share fault in some cases.
What Is Comparative Negligence?
When fault is shared, Illinois uses the modified comparative negligence rule to determine the party that can claim compensation for losses and how much compensation that party can receive. Under the rule, you can’t recover damages if you’re found to be more than 50% at fault for your accident, making it crucial for you to know how to prove fault in a car accident.
You can recover damages if your percentage of fault is lower than 50%, but your recoverable compensation will be decreased according to your degree of fault.
The Importance of Gathering Evidence at the Accident Scene
Much of the evidence that can be used to assign fault is available immediately after an accident. This evidence can get lost or destroyed over time. You should collect this evidence as soon as possible to build a strong case. Documenting the crash scene helps paint a vivid picture of why and how your accident occurred and forms a solid foundation for your case.
Types of Evidence That Can Be Helpful in Proving Fault
When you’re involved in an accident, a car accident kit can come in handy. But how can car accident kits help prove your injury case? These kits help victims collect information at the scene of their crash that could be essential for successfully filing an accident claim. Failing to document any details from the scene will make it harder to determine fault and obtain compensation.
The more evidence you gather, the easier it will be to prove fault. A variety of evidence can be helpful in proving your case and boosting your claim, including:
Acquiring a copy of the police report is an important step in proving fault after being involved in a car accident. The report contains information that strongly supports your case, such as:
- Whether there were traffic tickets issued
- Whether there were eyewitnesses
- Statements from people present when the crash occurred
- The officer’s perspective on what happened
The information in the report can go a long way toward establishing liability for your car accident. Contact the police as soon as possible after being involved in an accident to ensure this report is generated.
The location and extent of the car damage can help determine who was at fault. For example, when a driver pulls out of a driveway suddenly and hits the middle of the passenger side of your car, the other driver is likely to have not been paying attention when entering the roadway.
A car accident attorney can examine the location and extent of the damage to your car and assemble critical clues on the at-fault party in your case.
Pictures and Videos of the Accident Scene
Photographs and videos of the crash scene provide an objective perspective to your case. They help tell the story of how your accident occurred, showing important details that could help prove liability. Take pictures and videos from multiple angles. Make sure you capture your visible injuries, the vehicles involved in the accident, and the surrounding area, including skid marks, debris, road conditions, nearby traffic signs, and any other information that could be relevant to your claim.
Witnesses can give a neutral perspective of how an accident occurred, helping prove fault and innocence of the involved parties. Their statements can be especially helpful in more complex cases like multicar accidents, left-turn accidents, and crashes where the parties involved disagree on the circumstances surrounding the crash and who is at fault.
If there are any witnesses at the accident scene, be sure to talk to them and collect their contact details. Your car accident lawyer may follow up with the witnesses later and get more information from them to support your claim.
Medical records documenting your injuries can help prove fault by showing the point of impact. For example, whiplash could indicate being hit from behind, whereas a broken arm might be due to a side impact.
Check if there are any nearby traffic and surveillance cameras that could have captured your accident. Surveillance footage is an effective tool for determining fault. It can show whether the other driver was negligent before the crash, for example, by talking on the phone while driving, violating traffic laws, or speeding.
How to Establish Negligence in a Car Accident Case in Lake County
Proving fault in your car accident case requires showing the other driver was negligent. The key elements of negligence you and your attorney must prove to establish fault in your case are: the other driver owed you a duty of care, the person breached the duty, the breach of duty caused the accident, and you suffered harm.
Duty of Care
Accident victims need to prove the other driver owed them a duty of care before the crash. This duty is often present in car accident cases because every driver is legally obligated to adhere to traffic laws and exhibit responsible driving behavior to keep other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists safe.
Breach of Duty
You must show the other party breached the duty of care. A breach of duty of care happens when someone fails to exercise reasonable care given the circumstances. There are several ways drivers in Lake County can breach the duty of care they owe to other road users, including:
- Texting while driving
- Driving while intoxicated
- Disregard of traffic signs and signals
- Driving a poorly maintained vehicle
You’ll need to have enough evidence that shows how the other driver breached his or her duty of care.
You must prove the other party’s breach of duty caused the accident that led to your injury or property damage. That implies you wouldn’t have suffered damages if the responsible party hadn’t acted negligently. Police reports, medical records, and footage of the crash scene are some pieces of evidence that can help show causation.
The last element to establish negligence is proving that you suffered actual damages from the accident. You don’t have a valid car accident claim to make if you didn’t suffer damages. Damages can include economic costs like medical bills, lost income, and property damage expenses, and non-economic damages like emotional distress and pain and suffering.
Consult With an Experienced Attorney
Proving fault can be challenging. It often requires complex legal analysis. An experienced auto accident attorney can make the entire process smoother. An attorney will explain to you the legal rules and how to prove fault in a car accident claim in more detail. After discussing and evaluating your case, the attorney will determine the evidence that will prove fault most effectively in your case. He or she can help you collect and organize the evidence.
Insurance companies usually try to put as much fault as they can on plaintiffs to minimize the amount of compensation the insurance company has to pay in damages. Countering their tactics without having someone else on your side representing your interests is a daunting task. A car accident attorney will collect as much evidence as possible to protect you from false accusations and receiving an unfair settlement or claim denial. Your attorney will calculate your accident-related losses and negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company to reach a fair settlement.