After sustaining an injury in a car accident in Indiana, it is important to understand who was at fault for causing the accident and, therefore, liable for compensating the victims for their harms. Depending on the circumstances, fault can be a complicated legal concept to apply.
Fault can also be difficult to prove. Potential plaintiffs will benefit from many different resources along the way, such as police reports, medical records, photos and video, and eyewitness testimony. It is particularly important to have legal assistance if you find yourself in a situation where you may have shared some of the blame for causing the accident or the harm.
These are complicated issues that require a seasoned hand. You can get the help that you need by picking up the phone and calling Wruck Paupore today at (219) 322-1166. Our Indiana car accident lawyers offer free initial case assessments to potential clients struggling with the consequences of their car accident injuries.
In many situations involving a car accident, at least one driver is at fault. Identifying the at-fault driver and demonstrating why they were at fault can be a complicated undertaking depending on the circumstances of the accident.
Proving fault for a car accident is a critical step in establishing negligence, which is the legal theory that supports most car accident lawsuits. Negligence can generally be established by showing that another reasonably prudent driver would have behaved differently behind the wheel than the driver in question. Traffic law violations such as speeding and blowing a red light are classic examples, but driver negligence does not have to be worthy of a citation to be grounds for liability.
To prove fault in court, a plaintiff will also have to demonstrate that the driver’s negligence was the cause of the accident and the plaintiff’s resulting injuries. These elements of a negligence claim can be difficult to understand without the seasoned counsel of an Indianapolis car accident attorney.
Evidence comes in many different forms. It is important to understand what resources you have at your disposal to prove your case early on so that you can obtain and preserve these vital sources of information.
The first step in this process starts at the scene of the accident. You should always call 911 while at the scene, regardless of the circumstances. The law enforcement officers who arrive at the location of the crash will investigate and compile their findings into an official police accident report. The report will contain vital details about the accident and the parties involved that you will likely need in your dealings with insurance or the preparation stages of your lawsuit.
Once you leave the crash site, much of the evidence will be lost. For this reason, it is important that you document the crash through pictures and video. Visual evidence of the damage to vehicles, conditions of the road, and other aspects of the crash can be critical in proving who was to blame for causing the collision. Minor things like whether there are skid marks on the road, and where they are located, can make all the difference in reconstructing your accident and proving who was at fault.
Another critical type of evidence that should be sought at the scene of the accident is eyewitness testimony. It can be incredibly difficult to track down individuals who saw the accident happen after leaving the crash site. If you are able, do your best to get the names and contact information of any willing bystanders who can explain what really happened. Police officers often document eye witnesses in their crash report, but it is very common that they do not document everyone who was a witness. We have successfully recovered for our clients in numerous cases where our investigation revealed a key witness that was not mentioned in the police report.
You will also need evidence that you suffered injury as a result of your accident. The easiest and best way to create this evidence is by seeking medical attention as soon as possible after you leave the scene of the accident. Going to an emergency room immediately has the significant added benefit of preventing any undiscovered conditions from worsening over time. Make sure to explain how you were injured to health providers so that they document in in your medical records.
Not every car accident is entirely the fault of one of the drivers involved in the actual collision. If deficits in infrastructure contributed to the accident, the government entity responsible for inspecting and maintaining that infrastructure might be liable. Examples may include potholes that cause tire punctures, ineffective guardrails or stoplights, bridge failures, poor road design, or a failure to include and maintain traffic signs.
Car manufacturers are responsible for producing safe functioning vehicles. This includes all of the numerous components within the vehicle. If a car is sold with defects, and those defects cause an accident, the car manufacturer (or potentially the manufacturer of the individual defective part) may be liable for the consequences. Common examples are faulty seat belts or air bags which do not properly deploy. These defects are hard to spot without the experienced eye of a South Bend car accident attorney and nearly impossible to prove without the testimony of seasoned industry experts.
In some cases, multiple parties may have contributed to causing an accident or the resulting injuries. For these particular cases, Indiana law utilizes a modified comparative negligence rule. Under this rule, a plaintiff in a car accident injury case who was also partially to blame can still recover compensation from another at-fault driver, provided that the plaintiff’s level of fault is not more than 50%.
The percentage of fault is important because it will impact the amount of compensation that a plaintiff can recover. In a comparative negligence case, plaintiffs’ damages are reduced by the proportion of fault they share. For example, if a plaintiff claims $40,000 in damages, and the court finds that the plaintiff was 25% responsible for causing the accident, the plaintiff would still receive the remaining 75% of the damages, or $30,000.
If you need help assessing your potential car accident injury claim, we urge you to reach out to the dedicated Fort Wayne car accident lawyers at Wruck Paupore today. When you call our offices at (219) 322-1166, you can get a free initial personalized case evaluation.
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Don is a founding partner and one of the nation’s top-ranked personal injury litigators. He is a member of the Multi-million Dollar Advocates Forum, which includes less than 1% of the nation’s trial lawyers, and awarded the highest ranking given by Martindale Hubbel and AVVO.
More importantly, Don understands representing personal injury victims is about more than recovering the best settlement: it’s about helping clients get back on their feet and supporting them in every aspect of their recovery.
In nearly all cases, our clients seek compensation from the wrongdoer’s insurance company. Before forming Wruck Paupore, Jason worked for a prominent law firm representing some of the world’s largest insurers. This experience gives Jason a deep understanding of the insurance industry and the strategies it uses to pay injury victims as little as possible.
Jason -- and our entire team -- put this inside knowledge to work to force insurance companies to pay what is actually owed. Often, we use the insurance company’s own tactics against them as we fight for the full compensation our client deserves.
For more than four decades, Keith has been fighting for injury victims. During that time, he’s watched the insurance industry change, with insurers now more interested in protecting their stock price than treating injury victims fairly.
Since the beginning, Keith has put people first. From his childhood in Gary, Indiana during the 1960’s and working his way through law school, Keith has risen to become one of the Midwest’s most respected trial lawyers. He has never forgotten that being a lawyer is about helping people -- and seeing injury victims through struggles in a way that could change their lives forever.
Over the decades, Keith, Don and Jason have fought relentlessly for clients, even when other lawyers have said the case was impossible to win.