Most people I represent who have been injured in an automobile accident assume that fault or liability is already determined when they come to me because the other driver was given a citation for causing the accident. Often times the other driver has already been to court and even plead guilty for this citation. This is often times why people are so willing to speak with insurance adjusters about their claim and volunteer vital information about the accident that could possibly harm them down the road. What most people don’t understand is that the accident report itself, or even the court’s disposition sheet, is not admissible in a civil suit for injuries to prove that the other driver was at fault in causing the accident.
There are often times when liability simply cannot or is not disputed by the other driver’s insurance company. When liability is disputed, it is important to get an attorney who has experience handling automobile accident claims to investigate the details of your accident and gather the appropriate evidence to prove your case. It is also important that you be very careful about what you say to an insurance adjuster until you get a written admission of liability. Never provide a recorded statement without a written admission of liability. There are various ways an experienced car accident attorney can help you investigate your accident prove the other driver was at fault.
Usually, the easiest place to start is to identify and speak with any potential witnesses to the accident. This includes anyone who may have been in the car with you at the time of the accident or anyone who may have seen the accident as it occurred. Often times, police officers will interview any possible witnesses at the scene of the accident and identify them on the accident report. A good place to start the investigation is to reach out the any possible witnesses and, if they are willing to support your position and provide testimony, get a written affidavit to document their information. The affidavit is helpful when submitting your claim to the insurance company and, if your claim must proceed to trial, the affidavit can be crucial in refreshing a witnesses’ memory about an accident that occurred a year or more prior to the trial.
Accident Reconstruction Experts
Under certain circumstances, it is helpful to hire an expert experienced in accident reconstruction to help recreate the accident. Whether this is necessary usually depends on the complexities of the accident itself and the potential value of recovery, as expert witnesses can be very expensive. Experts trained in engineering or physics, in addition to law enforcement personnel, analyze the vehicles’ positioning, damage, speed and other factors to provide a detailed recreation of the accident. Our experience is to hire accident reconstruction experts who can also work with graphic design artists to provide a 3-D video recreation of the accident to present at trial. This really helps jurors understand the accident and determine liability at trial.
Black Box Information
Most people have heard about the infamous “black box” that is vigorously searched for after an airplane accident. What most people don’t know is that majority of modern vehicles also contain some type of black box that monitors and stores data information. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) has mandated that every black box recorder must track fifteen (15) variables: vehicle speed, throttle position, airbag deployment times, whether the brakes were applied, if seatbelts were worn, engine speed, steering angles and more. Manufactures are also free to up to thirty (30) additional variables of their choosing, excluding GPS location, video and audio.
Although the block box only stores information up to twenty (20) seconds at a time, this information can be invaluable to recreate the accident and determine liability. However, black boxes are seldom retrieved in automobile accident claims. One reason is because, by the time an attorney is retained on the claim to investigate the accident, the vehicles have usually been fixed or they are totaled and carried away to some undisclosed location. Also, retrieving data from the black box can be very expensive because it requires specific software and professional training. Cost can be anywhere between anywhere from $2,000.00 up to $20,000.00 depending on the vehicle and manufacturer.
We Can Help You With Your Car Accident Claim
If you have been in car accident anywhere in South Carolina and the insurance company is disputing liability, it is probably time for you to speak with an attorney about your wreck. Our law firm is always happy to speak with anyone about their issues in dealing with the insurance company. You are welcome to contact our Charleston office by sending your questions by filling out our contact form, or you can simply call us at 843-991-6528. We look forward to seeing if we can help.