Sometimes it is obvious who caused an auto accident. If a driver was seen by many witnesses to be driving aggressively; if the driver was drunk; if the driver was seen speeding (or driving too fast for conditions); if the driver ran a red light, or if the driver was clearly distracted; then it may not be hard to prove liability.
Unfortunately, not all auto accident cases are this cut-and-dry. In many cases, you’ll find it much more difficult to prove negligence. If you were in an auto accident where liability isn’t obvious; or if you find out that the insurance company disagrees with you about who was at-fault, then you may struggle to figure out how you’re going to prove it. The smartest thing that you can do after any South Carolina auto accident – especially if fault is questionable – is to contact a South Carolina car accident attorney from the Law Office of H. Chase Harbin for a free consultation. We’ll investigate the cause of your accident and the value of your damages, file your claim, and fight for the compensation you deserve.
What Caused Your South Carolina Car Accident?
The most common causes of car accidents in South Carolina include: speeding and driving too fast for conditions (even though the at-fault driver may not have been technically speeding); driving while distracted; driving aggressively; following too closely (in rear end collisions); driving while fatigued or drowsy (sometimes because of the side effects of medications); and driving while intoxicated.
When it comes to proving what caused your accident, you’ll have to establish three key points: 1) that the other driver owed a duty of care; 2) that the other driver breached that duty of care – perhaps through unsafe or irresponsible driving behavior; and 3) that this breach of duty of care is in fact what led to your injuries.
Can the Police Determine Who is At Fault in Your Auto Accident Claim?
In many of these cases, the at-fault driver is determined by the police and issued a citation for the negligent and often illegal behavior that caused the crash. The at-fault driver might even face criminal consequences for breaking the law.
You have an obligation to contact the police when an auto accident happens. Depending on the circumstances, if a driver leaves the scene without calling the police, or leaves before the police arrive without first exchanging insurance and contact information, then that driver could potentially face criminal charges for a “hit and run”.
It would seem that the police report would be a valuable piece of evidence when it comes to proving negligence. Unfortunately, it cannot alone be used for this purpose in a civil claim. The responding officers can serve as witnesses in a civil claim, if necessary. In certain circumstances they are allowed to refer back to the police report to refresh their memories of the incident and what evidence they observed at the time of their accident investigation. If they are qualified as an expert in the field of accident investigations, they may be allowed to testify as to what their opinion of who the at-fault driver was.
What Evidence Can Be Used To Prove Negligence in a South Carolina Car Accident?
While police officer testimony can be used to provide evidence of negligence in a car accident – even though in most cases a police report itself cannot be introduced as evidence to prove fault – there are many other forms of evidence that may be available to you at the time of the accident that you can use to prove who was the at fault driver in a South Carolina auto accident. An excellent example of other material that can be used to prove negligence is photographic evidence.
If you are in a physical and emotional state to do so at the scene of the accident, then taking pictures could make all the difference in your claim. The photos can show where each vehicle ended up; where the property damage is and how serious it is; how severe the injuries were; and the conditions of the road, traffic, and weather. Witness statements are equally important. You’ll want to collect the contact information of anyone who saw the accident or who administered first aid at the scene. The responding officers, or other witnesses may not agree with your claim of who was at-fault. In those cases, the attorneys at the Law Office of H. Chase Harbin may be able to assist in finding expert witnesses who can help to prove your case by reconstructing the accident.
When you work with a South Carolina auto accident attorney, like those at the Law Office of H. Chase Harbin, you’ll have access to our network of expert witnesses to help to prove liability. We’ll also thoroughly investigate how and why the accident occurred, as well as the value of your damages. Proving both liability and damages requires evidence; and the attorneys at the Law Office of H. Chase Harbin will work hard to uncover and assemble every piece of evidence that can be used to make your case.
Do You Have Dash Camera Video Evidence?
More and more South Carolina drivers are investing in dash cameras for their vehicles. These are video cameras that are installed on your dash board, so that they record what happens from the perspective of the driver or the front of the vehicle. Many associate this kind of equipment with law enforcement, since police have been using dash cams for years. Some don’t realize that civilians have just as much right to use dash cams as police do. In fact, the police can often be assisted in their determination of who was at-fault by reviewing the video evidence captured by a dash-cam. This evidence has the potential to help the police correctly ascertain who may be subject to citation, or even arrest.
When it comes to your civil liability car accident claim, a dash camera can provide all of the evidence that you need to establish liability. If the jury is able to see video evidence showing the actions of the other driver, they can observe for themselves what happened. Typically, if you have video evidence of this kind the case is not likely to go to trial because the insurance company will know exactly what the jury would decide if they are shown video proof. In many situations where the insurance company of the at-fault driver is unwilling to negotiate fairly, simply showing them the dash camera footage quickly changes their minds. The best part of this is that you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get a dash camera. They typically cost between $50 and $200, depending on the extra features, such as GPS coordinates.
An Attorney Can Negotiate Your Claim for a Fair Settlement
The more evidence that you are able to collect to prove liability, the easier your case will be. However, even if you did not collect a lot of evidence, you can still greatly improve the outcome of your auto accident claim with the help of an attorney to negotiate with the insurance company. Your attorney will be able to further investigate and gather additional evidence; and along with the evidence collected from the scene at the time of the accident, they will present your best case to the insurance company for the compensation you deserve. And if necessary, the attorneys at the Law Office of H. Chase Harbin are always ready to go to trial, and fight for you in front of a jury of your peers.
Contact an experienced car crash attorney in Greenville, SC at the Law Office of H. Chase Harbin to schedule a free consultation and learn more about your options and the steps you should take to ensure fair compensation for your injuries.
Chase Harbin is a Criminal Defense Lawyer who practices in Pickens and Greenville, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 17 years now. Chase Harbin believes in defending the accused. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.