Car Accident Defenses: Contributory and Comparative Negligence
What You Should Know if You’re Ever in a Car Accident
You are a conscientious driver. You follow the rules and do not take chances with your safety. The same cannot be said of everyone else on the road. If you were hurt in a car crash caused by the negligence or recklessness of the other driver, then you should seek compensation. This process begins with the enlistment of a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer. A Los Angeles lawyer can provide you with the insight and counsel you need to get the money you deserve.
Why You Should Always Seek Compensation After an Accident
A car accident can turn your entire life upside down. They are unpredictable and highly disruptive. If you were in a minor car accident that caused minor injuries, you may be able to recover fairly quickly. You will still need to go to the hospital, and you may require some medical care to put you on the path to healing. You will also need to repair the damage done to your vehicle. The driver who caused the accident should be made to pay these bills, no matter how small they are.
The situation is completely different if you were in a serious car accident. In this instance, you may need to undergo a series of complex surgeries to get healthy again. You may also need to spend extensive amounts of time in a recovery and rehabilitation program. You will need to pay for the medical expenses that result from this process. You will also need to find a way to make up the income you will lose while on your back.
If the accident caused permanent disability, you may have to give up your livelihood altogether. You will also need to pay for medication and treatments that may last a lifetime.
You should not have to shoulder these burdens on your own. The best car accident attorney will know how to get you the money you deserve.
You May Not Need to Sue
The best car accident attorney will get you the money that you are entitled to with the least amount of stress. They will not advise you to sue the other driver straightaway. They will instead attempt to approach the lawyer or the insurance company of the driver who caused the accident to reach a settlement agreement. In some cases, this will do. The other driver may recognize their fault and agree to the pay-out.
If this does not happen and they refuse to acknowledge fault in the accident, then you will be in for a fight. This is not a matter to take lightly. There have been cases in which the at-fault driver in an accident was able to avoid liability on a technicality.
Possible Defenses For an At-Fault Driver in a Car Accident
To win your case, you must prove that the other driver was reckless or negligent. The other driver can avoid full liability for the accident by establishing a viable defense under the shared fault rules of the state of California.
The driver can claim comparative negligence. They can say that you were partly to blame for the accident. This will require them to submit evidence that you somehow neglected traffic rules or engaged in otherwise questionable behavior before the accident and this in some way led to it. If they can demonstrate this, then the amount of compensation you can claim from them will be limited.
Contributory negligence is another line of defense they can employ. This essentially prevents you from recovering any compensation if it can be proven that you acted just as negligently and recklessly as the other driver, and that such behavior contributed to the accident. To make this stick, the other driver would have to prove that you, not them, were responsible for the accident.
Either one of these lines of defense will be a tough sell if the facts are on your side. However, your car accident lawsuit will be one shaky ground if the respondent can prove some kind of negligence on your part. Conduct that amounts to negligence includes:
- Riding in a car that you know is defective
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol (even if you are under the legal limit)
You should not underestimate the lengths that the other driver will go to prove that you were at least partly at fault for the accident. If you file a car accident lawsuit, then their legal team will be able to investigate your activities before the accident. This includes reviewing your phone records. If it can be shown, for example, that you were speaking on the phone or sending text messages before the accident, it could put your entire case in jeopardy.
Making a Solid Case Against the Other Driver
The car accident lawyer in LA you hire will go through the events that led to the accident with you in a thorough and complete way. You may not be able to remember everything that happened. That is okay. Your LA auto accident lawyer will bring in a private professional to carry out a thorough investigation of the crash and the events surrounding it.
The first thing an investigator will do is recover any traffic camera footage of the crash site. They will also track down people who witnessed the accident. One or more of the witnesses probably captured the entire thing on their smartphone video, which can go a long way toward proving the veracity of your claims.
The investigator will also look into the activities of the other driver. If they had a few drinks before they got behind the wheel, the investigator and your lawyer will find out about it. The same goes for distracted driving. If they were too busy sending text messages to pay attention to the road, the evidence for it will be discovered.
Your lawyer will also assess the value of your case by bringing in an independent medical professional. This person can make a statement concerning the nature of your injuries and the debilitating effects they have had on you.