What if the accident was my fault?
Every personal injury case has an area of concern, and very rarely are cases straightforward.
One such example is when a person is injured in a car accident that is partially their fault that leads to another driver’s injuries. Suppose you have been involved in a car accident that was your fault. In that case, your case may be a lot more complicated, says Henningsen Injury Attorneys P.C., personal injury attorneys in Atlanta.
State Fault Laws
Each state sets its own laws when it comes to fault in auto insurance coverage and claims. States can either be at-fault or no-fault. Georgia, for example, is an at-fault state, which means that the at-fault driver can be held responsible for the personal injuries or property damage resulting from the crash, and that their auto insurance policy will cover these damages. Georgia is a modified comparative negligence state which means that you can recover damages for your injuries from the liable party’s insurance even if you were partially at fault as long as you are no more than 49% at fault for the accident.
What is “Fault”?
Being at fault for an accident means that you are legally liable or to blame for causing the accident. When it comes to auto accident insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits, it is the at-fault driver who is held accountable for the negligence that resulted in the accident.
Negligence in personal injury cases is the legal concept that one person or entity owes another a duty of care but then breaches that duty, resulting in injuries and damages. Drivers owe each other a duty to operate their vehicles with care and consideration for other road users. Drivers even agree to that when they sign their driver’s license. When they breach this duty by speeding, driving drunk, talking on their cell phone, or otherwise violating traffic laws and then cause car accidents, then they could be held legally responsible for being the proximate cause of the resulting injuries. Negligence while driving can take the following forms.
Driving Under The Influence
The blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for someone over 21 in Georgia is 0.08 percent, which could lead to a DUI offense for a driver operating a vehicle. What is important for Georgia drivers to understand is that they can still be pulled over or arrested for a DUI even if their BAC is under the legal limit.
If a driver shows visible signs of impairment like swerving in and out of their lane, driving too slowly, running red lights or through stop signs, overusing the brakes, or hugging the center lane, then they could be held liable if they cause an accident. In fact, you don’t have to be under the influence of alcohol to face a DUI. If your driving is impaired by prescription or over-the-counter drugs or fatigue, then you could be considered at fault for the accident.
You are more than five times more likely to get into a car accident while using your cell phone compared to drivers who are not distracted. Manual distractions are those that involve taking your hands off of the wheel, and visual distractions are those that take your eyes off of the road. Cognitive distractions occur when your mind is on something else other than driving. If you were on your cell phone and didn’t see a stop sign before an accident, for example, then you could be held responsible for the resulting crash. Sometimes accidents don’t involve other vehicles. If you were turning and did not see a pedestrian on the road, you could be held liable for their injuries.
If a driver is speeding and can’t stop in time to avoid an accident, they will share more fault than the other driver if the other driver followed all applicable laws. The injured victim can also argue that the speeding made their injury worse and may ask for higher compensation. It’s best to follow all traffic laws to avoid any culpability or liability in an accident.
Proving Fault In a Car Accident
Determining fault is important since the at-fault party’s insurance company will have to pay for the other driver’s losses. One of the key pieces of evidence in proving liability in a car accident case is the police report. It often includes information on the driver’s behavior, if there’s any suspicion of drug or alcohol use and if any traffic citations were issued at the scene of the accident.
Your personal injury attorney can depose witnesses to back up what you’ve reported. Expert witnesses may be called in by your attorney to provide testimony and use their expertise in accident reconstruction, medicine, or other related fields to explain how an accident happened or how your injuries occurred. Dash cams, nearby surveillance cameras, and photos you took at the scene of the accident are also used to establish fault.
An investigation will be conducted into the cause of the accident. For example, if the accident was caused by a malfunction of a car component, and you have been negligent in repairing or maintaining your vehicle, then evidence will be collected proving its state of disrepair. If you were violating a law at the time, say by speeding, but the other driver was also breaking the law, such as running a red light, then an investigation will uncover who shares more of the fault.
Mind What You Say Online
If you share responsibility for a car accident, then you should consider ways to help your case. One way is by avoiding discussing the accident on social media. The insurance adjuster may peruse your profile to find posts you have written about your accident or anything at all to see if it helps them save themselves money by offering a lower settlement.
Let’s say you post a picture of you bending over to play with your children. The insurance company may use that image against you if, for example, you claim to have suffered back injuries. Being involved in a car accident is a harrowing experience, and feeling responsible for it makes things worse. You can prevent additional frustration by keeping this matter private and not giving them any reason to suspect you.
Hire An Attorney
The best thing to do when you have been in an accident that was your fault is to hire an attorney who can help you determine what percentage of fault you share for the accident and represent you in case the injured victim or victims decide to file a personal injury claim against you. An attorney can use their resources to conduct an investigation and potentially reduce how much you are at fault for the accident and how much you are responsible for the other party’s damages. Even if you are at fault for the accident, you still have rights, which an attorney can inform you of and protect. Reach out to an attorney today to get started on your case and to protect your rights.