This is the second post in our series on handling Rochester, Minnesota car accident cases. Our last article served as an overview of topics to be addressed in this series and stressed the need to retain an experienced personal injury lawyer. By retaining experienced counsel, you ensure that your case is properly handled. In this article we address the topic of establishing liability in such cases. Our Rochester car accident attorneys assist victims in southeast Minnesota and portions of Iowa.
Many car accidents * do not result in disputes over fault. If a negligent party was cited by a responding police officer and there clearly was no wrongdoing by the victim, fault typically is not a point of argument. There are instances, however, where each side may have violated traffic laws. Such instances could include both drivers driving through a stop sign at an intersection, one driver speeding while the other was failing to pay attention to the road, or other situations where fault may be shared. In these cases, a responding officer may issue one or more citations to each party. The officer also may write an accident report stating that liability is unclear. In this event, your lawyer must establish who was at fault.
Counsel can take several steps to establish fault in a car accident case. It may be necessary to retain an investigator to visit the scene. This individual may identify and interview witnesses and determine if any security cameras caught footage of the accident. The investigator can look into the defendant’s past and determine if he or she has a history of dishonest conduct; if so, juries may be less likely to believe that person’s version of events. Finally, an examination of the wreckage may show the defendant was driving a vehicle with a safety defect such as a broken turn signal or worn out breaks.
Discovery is another tool that can be used when proving a defendant’s fault. We previously discussed the use of discovery in trucking accident cases. The same tools and mechanisms are available in car accident cases. These tools can be used to obtain evidence showing that the defendant was texting, talking on the phone, or engaging in other distracting conduct while driving. Furthermore, your attorney may take a deposition to record statements by the defendant. It is not uncommon for a defendant to make statements during a deposition that establish his own fault.
Contact a lawyer as soon as possible if you or a loved one have been in a car accident. Our Rochester attorneys have recovered more than $125 million on behalf of accident and other victims and we are ready to assist you.
We also serve the following southeast Minnesota cities: Red Wing, Winona, Mankato, Austin, Albert Lea, and Owatonna, as well as the cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and Bloomington. We also serve the Iowa cities of Mason City, Charles City, Osage, Spencer, Garner, Forest City, and Northwood and the Wisconsin cities of La Crosse, Onalaska, Sparta, Viroqua, River Falls, Ellsworth, Whitehall, and Black River Falls.
*A note about language:
Federal agencies involved in traffic safety have banned use of the word “accident” for more than 20 years, and with good reason. However, we use the word “accident” on our website, even though we know it has implications that run contrary to our professional thinking and training, because we recognize that “accident” is the word most commonly used in online searches when people are looking for help after being injured in a crash. If you’d like more information about this topic, please see our blog, “Car Accident or Car Crash?”