Evidence in DC Car Accident Cases
The following is taken from an interview with a DC car accident injury lawyer as he discusses the importance of having good evidence when filing a claim and what has to be proven in order for someone to receive compensation. If you have been injured in a car accident due to another’s negligence, call today and schedule a free consultation.
What Evidence Is Collected Or Presented In DC Car Accident Cases?
As to liability, it’s the plaintiff’s responsibility and obligation to prove the case by preponderance of the evidence, meaning being able to show that they are more likely right than wrong. Each issue, liability to damages to causation, has to be proven, so evidence has to be gathered as to each of those; pictures of the vehicles at the scene are very helpful, pictures of the property damage are very helpful. When the car is repaired, having that repair estimate and information about the nature of the damage to the vehicle is also helpful. Witnesses that saw the accident can corroborate independently what occurred. The police investigation, and any statements they may have taken, are very important.
Then there’s the medical side of the case: the diagnosis and treatment that was received, gathering that information and making sure that the doctors are doing what’s required for purposes of proving the issues in the case.
Then the causation issue: showing that those injuries are related to the accident itself. Sometimes people have pre-existing conditions or other conditions and that needs to be clarified as to what’s related to the accident or what’s not, and if there was a pre-existing condition, perhaps that condition was exacerbated as a result of the accident.
So, many, many things go into proving cases, which is the plaintiff’s responsibility. From the get go, it’s important for the attorney to be involved so that this information can be gathered.
What Do You Have To Prove In A DC Car Accident Case?
You have to prove that someone was at fault. Either they violated the motor vehicle laws, or how the accident happened was a result of that person’s breach of their duty on the highway to avoid a collision and to pay attention, be attentive, leave enough room, not speed, all of those issues. Fault has to be established in what we refer to as liability.
Then damages have to be proven. In order to have a case, there needs to the liability, the damages, and the causation, and you have to have all three. If you don’t have one of those, then you’re going to have a problem with your case. So, all medical treatment has to be proven to be necessary, reasonable and causally related to the accident and the accident has had to have caused those injuries.
Also, in D.C. there is a doctrine called contributory negligence and that means that the at fault party can be 99% at fault, but if the injury victim is deemed even just 1% at fault, they are barred from receiving any recovery. That’s a very harsh law, and that’s why the liability of the at-fault party has to be proven. The question of whether there was any contribution or negligent conduct on the part of the injured party would have to be proven by the at-fault party, but the ramifications are that it would ultimately prevent the injured party from recovering.
So, in terms of not talking to the insurance company and not giving a recorded statement, one of the main reasons this is important is because of the issue of contributory negligence. The only way of overcoming contributory negligence is a doctrine called last clear chance.
Even if the at fault party has responsibility and the injured victim has contributed, it falls back on the at fault party if they had the last clear chance to avoid the accident. In that case, liability can still be proven without any effect on the injured party. So, all of these issues go into the investigation analysis and evaluation of the case.