Oklahoma is a Fault State, which means you can only recover damages for your car, motorcycle, or vehicle accident, if you were less than 50 percent at fault for the accident. As simple as that may sound, it is often difficult to determine the liable or responsible driver in a vehicle accident. Negligence in a motor vehicle accident is the crucial analysis, because proving fault is almost synonymous with proving liability for the damages.
Fault analysis against a car insurance company is difficult with an experienced car accident attorney; however, it may be intimidating without a car accident lawyer on your side. The following information is intended to help you prove fault in a car accident case and build your case for compensation and damages.
Car Accidents and Police Reports
Many car accidents happen without police ever coming to the scene, something we highly recommend against. However, if you are on your toes and request a police officer come to the scene of your car accident, they will likely draft a car accident report or collision report. Be sure to request information on collecting a copy of the accident report from the office on the scene. As long as you know the law enforcement organization, i.e. Oklahoma City Police, Edmond Police, or Highway Patrol, you can request an accident report later through their records division. It is an important tool, which the insurance company will certainly look into and you should be prepared to respond to as well.
Police reports are the written recollections of the officer that studied the accident. These reports often contain great evidence about liability, such as the officer’s opinion that one car was speeding based on the officer’s observations of the length of the skid-marks. Officers also often indicate whether they issued any traffic tickets at the scene of an accident.
The police report can be one of the most important pieces of evidence you present to your insurance company. Insurance companies may drag their feet about issuing car accident liability reports without first obtaining a copy of the police report.
Amending a Police Report
Mistakes in police reports can be fixed, if the mistake is a factual error. Common factual errors in a police report include incorrect vehicle information, insurance information, or party names. Typically, police will amend a police report, if you can show the information in the report is factually incorrect. However, amending a disputed fact, like a fault determination in a collision report, is much more difficult.
Each police department or law enforcement office has different procedures for disputing or objection to content, facts, or determinations in a police report. You have the ability to contact the law enforcement department involved or your personal injury attorney can contact the law enforcement or police department to try and correct or dispute an inaccurate fact in a police or car accident report.
You or your car accident lawyer should contact the law enforcement department involved in your accident to learn about their procedure for correcting records. In many cases, you or your car accident attorney can simply add your statement to the accident report. It is a difficult task to overcome a fault determination in an accident report; however, this determination is not an expert opinion. An experienced accident attorney can assist you in determining the best course of action to fight your case and advise you on the reliability of the accident report fault determination.
Proving Fault in a Car Crash: State Traffic Laws
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Oklahoma traffic laws, often called the Oklahoma vehicle code, are a great source to support an argument that the other driver was at fault in your car accident. The traffic laws are often condensed into “Rules of the Road” available at your local DMV. You can also find vehicle codes online at OSCN, the Department of Public Safety (“DPS”) or the library.
After you’ve found the law applicable to your accident, you will be better positioned to negotiate with your car insurance company or the other party’s car insurance company. Citing the exact information for your citation or applicable traffic violations may strengthen your claim with the insurance company.
No Fault Car Accident Liability
Certain kinds of accidents will almost always be the fault of one driver. In clear driver’s fault car accident cases the insurance companies will rarely argue about the driver’s responsibility or liability for your injuries. Additionally, in clear fault cases, the car insurance companies will likely try to settle with you; however, without the information and damages to support your claim, they may try and settle for far less than your case is worth.
Fault in Rear End Accidents
Rear-end collisions are one of the most common types of vehicle accidents. It is almost always the other party’s fault, if you are hit from behind in a car accident, even if you were stopped. One of the most well know basic rules of the road is that you should leave enough room in front of your car to stop when the car in front of you stops suddenly. The driver that hit you from behind was likely not driving safety, if they hit you from behind, because they could not stop in time.
Outside of backing into a parked vehicle, there is not much argument about who struck who when one car’s front bumper is damaged and the other vehicle’s rear bumper is damaged. However, the driver that is at fault and hit you from behind may have a claim against the third party that hit that vehicle from behind, pushing them into your car. However, that does not affect his or her liability for the damage to your car.
Comparative negligence exists when more than one party is partially at-fault or responsible for a car accident. You may be partially at-fault for your car accident, even if another party is primarily responsible or negligence in causing the car accident. Although another driver was probably at fault, you may also be partially to blame for an accident, if your actions contributed to causing the crash. An example of comparative negligence in a car wreck, includes: brake lights that are out, having a flat tire and stopping in a busy road, breaking excessively for no reason, and other factors.
Additionally, left turn accidents are almost always the fault of the driver making the left-hand turn. Cars travelling straight through an intersection have the right of way in most cases, which makes the car turning left responsible for the accident.
However, if the car going straight through the intersection was speeding or ran a red light; these facts can shift the liability away from the car turning left and onto the reckless driver going through the intersection. It should be clear by now, if it was not already, that these issues are a detailed fact analysis, which is part of why it is so important to have witnesses, evidence, and clear information to support your claim that the other party is responsible for your car wreck.
Have Questions About Proving Fault in a Car Crash? Ask a Car Accident Attorney
Most minor car accidents, fender-benders, are resolved by exchanging insurance information, even minor accidents can and do result in serious injuries. You can and should schedule a free confidential car accident consultation,if you have been involved in a car accident, even a “minor accident”. Our Fierce Advocates would be glad to meet with you and explain your options in a free case evaluation. Our firm only recovers, if you are compensated, which means we do not get paid unless we win a settlement or judgment for you in your accident case.
Cannon & Associates: Oklahoma Fierce Advocates for Personal Injury
Handling the strains of a personal injury accident as well as the demands of the legal process can be overwhelming. At Cannon & Associates, we have the right attorneys, dedicated to serve you and deliver fierce advocacy to you in your car accident settlement or lawsuit.
Cannon & Associates is dedicated to Fierce Advocacy for accident victims and will fight to protect your interests and uphold your rights. Founder John Cannon has been recognized as a Super Lawyer and Top 40 under 40. Contact Cannon & Associates by completing the CONTACT FORM ON THIS PAGE NOW or CALL at 405-657-2323 for a free confidential case evaluation.