Determining liability in an auto accident, St.Louis, Missouri
Posted on October 7th, 2013 by Zane Cagle
Liability is a fancy word for “fault”. Was it your fault or was it the other person’s fault? All too often police officers do not asses fault, meaning they do not give someone a ticket or tell either driver whether it was their fault. The jury is the one who makes the determination of fault. The jury determines liability or “whose fault it was”. So when you go to talk about “fault” in a car accident, it is a very specific fact-driven issue, meaning what actions did you take immediately prior to the crash? And, what actions did the defendant take prior to the crash? A jury is allowed to assess percentages of fault to each person’s liability after they have heard the evidence in trial. The jury can say it is 50% your fault and 50% other driver’s fault, or they can say 100% your fault, 0% other person’s fault or many other variations of percentage splits.
In the beginning of your case, it is imperative that the factual issues related to the crash are determined and developed. You should not give any recorded statements right after your crash especially if you are on medication that could affect your memory or your ability to understand and answer questions, or affect your memory of the events. For that reason, insurance companies like to get recorded statements right after the crash regardless of whether you are on medication or not. Because they know if a case goes to trial, these facts will be critical. So do not answer questions regarding any aspect of the crash until you are of a clear mind and have consulted an expert attorney.
So, for that reason, if you think you have an issue regarding liability or if you don’t know, you should contact an attorney right away in order to discuss those facts. Insurance companies know information such as ‘How much time passed from when you first saw/heard the brakes to impact?” and questions regarding what you could and could not observe are all critical facts should your case go to trial.
How much time could have elapsed between first-time you saw the other vehicle until impact? This question is seemingly tricky because when you are in a traumatic car accident, you may remember it very vividly or you may only remember parts. In fact, in some circumstances, seriously injured victims may not be able to recall anything about the crash other than where they were before and where they woke up later. Certainly, right after an accident, you do not want to give a statement that is not really representative of your full recollection.
What you could or could not observe? Remember, if you are a party in an accident, there are multiple perspectives depending on your position in the vehicle at the time of the crash. If you were in the backseat, the things that you can or could observe may be very different than the drivers. Likewise, two people, driving two different vehicles may see or observe different portions. It is important to consult an attorney before giving a statement. Visit my page of “Five Mistakes to Avoid a Car Accident in Missouri” for helpful tips to avoid mistakes after a car accident occurs.
Contacting me is confidential in nature and even if I do not represent you or we determine you do not need legal representation, all information remains confidential. At The Cagle Law Firm, all consultations are free and confidential. Call toll free (314) 276-1681 or locally (314) 276-1681 for your free consultation.