In the moments immediately following a car accident, a driver’s first thoughts are usually focused on making sure everyone is physically okay. Once it is determined that there are no serious injuries, the next thoughts inevitably include who was at fault for the accident.
In order to determine which party involved in an accident is liable for the damages incurred by other parties, an accident reconstructionist, insurance company claims adjustor, and the police will all gather and review evidence. Generally, a police officer will be the first investigator on the scene and will review the damage, take testimony of witnesses, and speak to both drivers before writing a report. It is this police report that can provide support to a non-negligent driver’s case if it ever needs to go to court, as the report typically will state whether there was evidence to show that one party violated any traffic laws which led to the accident. Because Arizona is a fault state, any statements made by a driver at the scene may be used against them later if fault must be determined by a court.
For example, consider a case involving a driver who has just been hit by a car that ran a red light. If the victim, after concluding that he or she has not sustained any serious injuries, leaves their vehicle and says something to the effect of “This was bad! Are you alright??” to the other driver, their words may easily be twisted. The other driver, falsely claiming that their light was green, could tell the responding officer that they heard the victim say that it was their fault because they were apologetic immediately after the incident. As “no bell once rung can be unrung,” neither can the first words made at the scene of an accident be unheard.
Luckily for a driver who is not at fault for an accident, the words of the other driver are not the only pieces of evidence that are used to determine what happened. In many cases, there are witnesses to the accident who were either in a separate vehicle close by or pedestrians who were around the area when the accident occurred. In the example above, testimony from these witnesses should be gathered in order to determine which light was red and which was green, who had the right of way, and the speed of each driver. Also, it is important to not forget that the damage to each vehicle also tells a story and can be used in court to prove that the driver who is at fault needs to pay for the damages incurred by the victim.
While many car accidents occur that may not seem to require legal help, if a careless driver crashes into another car but then disputes that they were liable, a seemingly straightforward case can take a turn for the worse. If you or a loved one is involved in a car accident, the professionals at the Thompson Law Firm, PLLC can help you navigate through Arizona’s fault system and help the true story come to light.