In some auto accident claims in South Carolina, it is easy to see who was at-fault. The at-fault driver made an obvious mistake, was clearly intoxicated, was evidently distracted, or was following too closely to stop in time. Many cases involve breaking traffic laws, disregarding signals and speed limits, or aggressive driving. These cases will give you no trouble when it comes to determining fault. They are clear and the evidence is inarguable. But what happens when fault is not so obvious? How do you figure out if it was your fault, the other driver’s fault, or some combination? If you are sure of fault, how are you going to prove it to the insurance company or a jury? The auto accident attorneys at the Elrod Pope Law Firm can help.
Start By Ascertaining Exactly What Caused the Auto Accident to Occur
While you might be certain that you didn’t do anything wrong, you’ll need much more than your word of honor to prove it. This is where it helps to have collected as much evidence as possible at the scene of the collision. If you were able to take pictures of skid marks, the placement of the vehicles when they stopped, the road conditions, and other relevant images that could prove fault, then this will help.
If you gathered the contact information of all witnesses, then this could make a tremendous difference as well. If you contacted the police (as you are legally required to do after an accident involving injuries and/or more than $1,000 in property damage), then the police report could be immensely beneficial. You can’t use the actual police report as evidence in court, but the responding officer can use it to refresh his or her memory before providing their witness statement. Thus, if it was clear to the officer at the time that the other driver was at fault, perhaps through a traffic law violation, this could make a difference in your case.
In some cases, there might also be video footage that can be used as evidence. If you happen to have a dash cam, then this likely recorded much more than you actually remember seeing, and even more than the witnesses will recall. If there is surveillance footage from a nearby business or if any other vehicles had dash cameras, then you can request this footage for evidence. This is another good reason to get the contact information of witnesses. One of them might have had a dash camera, even if you do not, and video footage is extremely compelling when proving fault.
In cases where your injuries are too severe to allow you to gather any evidence at the scene of the accident, you would be wise to contact someone you trust to do this for you, if possible. If there is an uninjured passenger with you, then they may be able to do so. If you contact someone you trust to come to the scene, take photos, and gather the contact information of witnesses, then this can help too. In any event, you should file a police report.
You Must Prove Negligence to Prove Fault and Liability in an Auto Accident Claim
Negligence, in an auto accident claim, refers to the failure of the at-fault driver to uphold their duty of care, which is to drive safely and follow traffic laws. If the at-fault driver failed to uphold this duty of care, and if that is what caused the accident and your injuries and damages, then that driver is negligent and is liable for your damages. The more evidence you have that the driver was negligent in their behavior or lack of caution, the stronger your claim is. Further, this evidence can be used by an auto accident reconstructionist who may be called upon as an expert witness. The reconstructionist can take all of your collected evidence, including photos and eye witness statements, and reconstruct the accident as the evidence indicates that it most likely occurred. This can go a long way towards proving who was at fault and establishing the negligence and liability that you need to prove for your claim.
When you contact the South Carolina auto accident attorneys at the Elrod Pope Law Firm, you will get more than the benefit of our legal advice and experience; you will also have the benefit of our experience with auto accident reconstructionists, medical experts, and other experts who may be relevant to proving who was at fault for your auto accident and the value of your short-term and long-term damages. In most cases, your auto accident claim won’t go to trial, because we’ll be able to prove how the incident occurred, why it happened, and the value of your damages, and the auto insurance company won’t want to risk losing even more money by allowing the auto accident claim to go to a jury trial. Such legal proceedings are costly for both sides and also very time consuming. Thus, we will be motivated to settle your claim outside of the courtroom for your benefit, and the auto insurance company will be similarly motivated to settle the claim out of court.
The Elrod Pope Law Firm Can Help You Prove Negligence and Damages
Contact the Elrod Pope Law Firm to discuss the details of your auto accident claim and how we can help you to prove negligence and the value of your damages. Our South Carolina auto accident attorneys have the experience and knowledge that will help you to recover the maximum available compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more, depending on the variables of your case. Call us today for a free consultation.
Thomas E. Pope is a Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, and Medical Malpractice Attorney who practices in Rock Hill, Lake Wylie, and Lancaster, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 31 years now. Thomas E. Pope believes in protecting the injured. Learn more about his experience here.