Stephen Hasner | Car Accidents | February 7, 2019
Fulton County, where Atlanta is located, has seen a dramatic increase in car accidents and injuries during the last five years for which statistics are available—from 4,498 injuries and 77 fatalities in 2012 to 12,875 injuries and 129 deaths in 2016.
If you are in such a car accident, you may have sustained injuries, amassed medical expenses, lost time at work, and suffered property damage or losses. Damages after an accident can strike immediately and persist for a lifetime, and may cause physical, emotional, and financial stress for a victim.
In a perfect world, the responsible party and his or her insurance company would acknowledge liability and act quickly to restore the victim to wholeness, or as near to wholeness as possible. Unfortunately, this rarely happens. More often resolution may drag out for months or even years, and in the worst cases, the other driver may try to evade their responsibility completely and claim the victim either partially or totally caused the accident. If any question arises regarding negligence, proving the other driver was responsible for the accident may become critically important.
How do you prove the other driver was responsible for your car accident? Consider these steps to build the evidence and make your case:
At the Scene of the Accident
It is normal for anyone who is in an accident to feel shock. Victims, even those who were not severely physically injured, may struggle to think clearly. However, staying calm is essential to help the brain function well, and taking a few key steps will help minimize the potential for future complications and disputes.
Make the first priority after any accident checking for injuries and getting prompt medical attention for those involved. However, if you were in an accident, have the physical ability, and can do so without risk of further harm to yourself or others, you should:
Collect information. Exchange complete contact and insurance information with all involved drivers. Identify all potential witnesses and get complete contact information for them as well. This may include passengers in your own vehicle or the other vehicles, drivers of vehicles not involved in the accident, pedestrians, or even people working in or visiting nearby businesses. Record the makes, models, registrations, and license numbers of all involved vehicles. Start taking your own notes, detailing exactly what happened, while it is still fresh.
Take photographs. Photographs may become important evidence for determining responsibility and establishing damages. Take as many photos as you can before moving your vehicle. (It may prove necessary to do so if the accident is blocking traffic.) Specific subjects to take photographs of include:
- Damage to your vehicle
- Damage to the other vehicles
- The position of the vehicles, preferably from multiple angles and with a wide perspective
- Complete scene of the accident and any possible hazards or features that may have contributed to the accident, such as blind spots, inoperative traffic lights, sun glare, or overgrown foliage
- Your injuries
- The license plates of all involved vehicles
Wait for the police to arrive. If the accident is serious, all involved parties must wait for police to arrive to investigate, issue citations, and take statements. However, after a minor accident, such as a low-speed fender bender, the involved parties may agree to exchange insurance information and file their police reports separately. In cases where the police do not come to the scene of the accident, the parties must collect all of the evidence, including contact information and photographs.
Make your statement, review it, and correct any errors. The more time that passes after an accident, the more unreliable memory may become. Therefore, as soon as possible after the accident, record your complete and detailed statement of events. Make your formal statement to police, and keep a copy for yourself.
After the Accident
A serious injury may prevent you from collecting any information at the scene of the accident. Even if you suffered only minor injuries, you may later find you are missing key information after the fact. Or perhaps the other driver gave you a false sense of security because he or she seemed cooperative at the time of the accident, but they have proven difficult in the period since. Regardless of the challenges you face, you have options to hold the responsible driver accountable:
- Review the police report. In many cases, the police report will help establish who was liable for the accident. Read the police report and note all particularly relevant facts that support your claims.
- Talk to witnesses. Anyone who witnessed the accident may have vital information to help establish what happened and who was responsible.
- Compare the damage to the involved vehicles. The physical evidence and damage to the vehicles involved in the collision will tell a story, and may prove liability. Even if the vehicles have been repaired or destroyed, you may obtain records from the body shop, garage, or towing company. Use all available photographs and records to support your claims.
- Review the statements of all involved parties. Carefully check your statement against the statement of the other party and those of any witnesses. Note inconsistencies, and any changes that the other party made.
- Examine all available footage from video cameras. Traffic cameras, business security cameras, and dash cams are increasingly common, and may provide vital evidence in car accident cases. If your accident occurred in a residential area, check with all nearby homeowners who may have security cameras that recorded relevant footage. Just make inquiries about footage as soon as possible, as new recordings may delete or overwrite older videos.
Call Hasner Law
If you were in a car accident and are now struggling to establish the liability of the other driver, speak to an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. A car crash lawyer can gather evidence, analyze all potential claims, calculate damages, represent you in negotiations, and if necessary, advocate for you in litigation.
For more information, reach out to one of our convenient locations nearest you for assistance.
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