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Published On: Thu, Apr 12th, 2018

Ins and Outs: An Attorney is Your Best Bet in an Auto Accident

In many car crash cases, fault seems relatively clear. Perhaps the other driver rear-ended you or received a citation at the scene. Maybe the other driver even admitted liability in front of witnesses. But not all cases are this cut-and-dried. Moreover, even if liability seems apparent, the insurance company’s legal wrangling could delay settlement for months or even deny fair compensation altogether.

To build successful cases, experienced car accident lawyers start with the facts available at the time. They use these facts to develop a solid legal theory that will resonate with the jury. Then, they collect additional facts to support this theory and refute any insurance company defenses. These tasks are simply impossible for most victims to undertake on their own, particularly as they try to recover from their serious injuries.

photo/ OpenClipart-Vectors

Reviewing Available Evidence

In many jurisdictions, simply requesting a police report involves the same process as a Freedom of Information Act request. First, the matter must go to the proper agency. The sheriff’s office will not track down a police report from the city police department. Second, the request usually goes to the city attorney or other legal department. Finally, the victim receives a redacted copy of the report. This process could take weeks and yields little information.

An attorney can usually get a complete police report in a matter of hours. Experienced lawyers know how to get things done. Furthermore, because an attorney is ethically obligated to keep matters confidential, the reports are usually unredacted.

Perhaps most significantly, an attorney knows about the inherent limitations of a police report. Even highly experienced first responders are not accident reconstructionists, so their conclusions may or may not be correct. Furthermore, the reports are often incomplete. First responders are on scene to keep people safe and not to collect evidence for a future lawsuit. Additionally, if the victim was unable to give a statement, the police report may only contain one side of the story.

Theories of Liability

Human error causes over 90 percent of car crashes. In many cases, this human error amounts to a lack of ordinary care. Some common car crash causes in West Virginia include:

  • Alcohol: This depressant inhibits motor skills and impairs judgement ability even after just one drink. The more a person drinks, the more impaired the person is, and the easier liability becomes to establish.
  • Speed: Excessive velocity increases both the risk of a collision and the damages in that collision. Speed reduces the time that a driver has to react to an emergency. Moreover, excessive velocity multiples the force in a collision. It transforms ordinary fender-benders into serious injury collisions.
  • Fatigue: People who would never think of driving under the influence of alcohol routinely drive while they are sleepy. Yet fatigue and alcohol affect the brain in the same way. Driving after eighteen consecutive awake hours is like driving with a .08 BAC, which is above the legal limit in all states.

Distracted driving also causes a number of serious car crashes in West Virginia.

Additional Evidence

The victim/plaintiff has the burden of proof in negligence cases. Many times, more evidence is needed. The evidence often comes from items like the Event Data Recorder. This gadget automatically records vehicle speed, steering angle, and other important statistics. The EDR, and other additional evidence, is often more than enough to refute come common insurance company defenses, such as the comparative negligence (joint fault) defense.

For maximum compensation in a serious car accident case, victims need experienced and aggressive attorneys.

Guest Author : 

Bret Thurman has a J.D. from the University of Texas. He practiced personal injury and other areas of law for over twenty years before becoming a full-time writer. He currently lives in Dallas.

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