You were seriously injured in a devastating crash when another driver ran a red light. You know the accident was not your fault, but the other driver is blaming you. If you can’t prove that the other driver caused the crash, you could end up sharing the blame or worse—taking all the blame.
Even when you’re in the right, you need a skilled Kansas City car accident lawyer on your side to prove it. The insurance company for the at-fault driver does not want to pay out on a claim and will do everything it can to deny the claim or lower its client’s liability. At Peterson & Associates, P.C., we fight for our clients to get the full compensation they deserve for the harm that has been done to them in a car crash.
Blame at the Scene of the Crash
Tempers flare and words fly at the scene of a crash, and what you do and say could potentially hurt your claim, but it is not up to the drivers involved in the crash to determine who is at fault. Witnesses and, once they arrive, police officers could be asked later about who said what, but there are more reliable ways to assign fault, and your attorney will get to work on those as soon as they are on the case.
So, even if the other driver blames you for the crash or lies to officers at the scene about what happened, you should not worry that what they say will affect your claim. Your only job after an accident is to get the medical help you need and to call Peterson & Associates as soon as possible.
How Fault Is Determined in a Kansas City Car Crash
In fault states like Missouri, establishing responsibility is vital for insurance claims and legal proceedings, as well as ensuring that the party at fault bears the appropriate consequences. Determining fault does not rely on what each driver says about what happened. Instead, it involves the following:
Police Reports and Investigations
Law enforcement officers play a pivotal role in assessing the scene of the accident. They gather evidence, interview witnesses, and document their findings in a police report. This report often includes information about traffic violations, eyewitness statements, and the officer's professional assessment of fault.
Missouri traffic laws serve as a set of guidelines to regulate road behavior. When a driver fails to adhere to these rules and regulations, they may be deemed at fault. Common violations include speeding, running red lights, failure to yield, and improper lane changes. Evidence of such violations greatly influences fault determination.
Eyewitnesses who observed the accident can provide valuable perspectives on how the crash occurred. Their statements help corroborate or challenge the accounts of the involved parties. Insurance adjusters and legal professionals often use these statements to construct a more comprehensive understanding of the events leading to the collision.
Photographic and Video Evidence
In the age of smartphones, many accidents are captured on camera by bystanders or involved parties themselves. Photographic and video evidence can provide a visual account of the crash, offering valuable insights into the sequence of events. This evidence is often compelling and can significantly impact fault determination.
In some cases, accident reconstruction experts may be called upon to analyze the scene, examine vehicle damage, and recreate the events leading to the crash. These professionals use their expertise to provide an objective assessment, helping to determine fault based on scientific and engineering principles.
Sometimes, fault is clear, but other times, it is a complex process that relies on a combination of police reports, eyewitness accounts, evidence analysis, and legal principles. The determination of fault ultimately impacts the compensation and accountability of those involved in the collision. When you were seriously injured in a crash that was not your fault, it is vital that you have someone on your side to make sure the facts are uncovered.
Can Blame Be Shared Between Two Drivers in Missouri?
Yes. This is known as comparative fault, and Missouri follows the pure comparative fault model, which means that each driver could be assigned a percentage representing the role their actions played in causing the crash. Each party can still get compensation from the other’s insurance company, but the amount they get will be reduced by their percentage of blame.
For example, if it is determined that your losses are valued at $50,000, but you are assigned 20 percent of the fault because you were exceeding the speed limit as you passed through the intersection, you would only get $40,000. Let’s say the other driver’s damages were assessed at $25,000; their recovery would be reduced by 80 percent, so they would be awarded $5,000.
You can see how sharing the blame can significantly reduce the compensation you will get to cover your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses. Your attorney will work hard to reduce or eliminate the percentage of blame assigned to you. You can help yourself by avoiding the following mistakes after an accident:
- Admitting fault. Resist the urge to apologize or admit fault, even if you feel apologetic. Admitting fault at the scene can be misconstrued and used against you during insurance claims or legal proceedings.
- Discussing the accident. Refrain from engaging in extensive discussions about the accident with the other driver. Stick to exchanging necessary information such as names, contact details, and insurance information. Also, limit what you say to the insurance company to basic information.
- Signing anything. Avoid signing any documents or statements without a clear understanding of their implications. Consult with your lawyer before putting your signature on anything related to the incident.
- Leaving the scene prematurely. Leaving the scene of an accident prematurely, especially without exchanging information, can lead to legal consequences. Stay at the scene until law enforcement authorizes your departure.
- Not documenting the scene. Be sure to document the accident scene. If possible, take photos of the vehicles involved, the surrounding area, and any relevant road signs or signals. This evidence can be crucial later on.
- Not notifying law enforcement. Always notify law enforcement about the accident, regardless of its severity. A police report can provide an objective account of the incident and serve as valuable documentation for insurance claims.
- Delaying medical attention. Refrain from delaying medical attention, even if your injuries seem minor at first. Prompt medical care is not only crucial for your well-being but also helps establish a clear connection between the accident and your injuries.
- Discussing the accident on social media. Resist the temptation to share details about the accident on social media. Insurance companies and legal representatives may use your posts against you, so it's wise to keep information about the incident private.
- Providing recorded statements. Refrain from providing recorded statements to insurance companies without consulting your attorney. Insurance adjusters may use these statements to limit liability or downplay the extent of your injuries.
The bottom line is this: the sooner you get an experienced car accident lawyer on your side, the more protected you will be.