Being involved in a car accident is shocking. If you are injured, it can be devastating. Amid the confusion in the immediate aftermath of an accident, it is often difficult to determine exactly what happened. However, determining who was at fault in an auto accident is essential to determining who will pay for any damages related to the accident and in some instances, who may be subject to criminal prosecution.
In many cases it is a relatively easy task to pinpoint who was at fault in a car accident. Wisconsin, like all states, require drivers to drive in a prudent manner in order to avoid harming others. There are specific laws that define the rules of the road. Violating such rules can result in a ticket, fine, or conviction of a misdemeanor or felony, resulting in jail. For example, Wisconsin drivers must drive in a way that is reasonable and prudent given the road conditions, as well as adhere to posted speed limits. Driving too fast or too slowly is against the law. It is also against the law to fail to stop at a red light, to fail to follow another vehicle at a safe distance, and to pass another vehicle in an unsafe manner. Furthermore, inattentive driving such as texting while driving in Wisconsin is against the law. Driving while intoxicated is also a violation of the law. If a driver is in an accident and receives a citation for violating a traffic law, that driver will likely be determined to be at fault for the accident and may be subject to civil liability and criminal penalties. If you are injured in an auto accident where the driver of the other vehicle was negligent, you may be able to sue that driver in a personal injury action.
In other cases it may not be evident who was at fault. For example, because of lack of third party witnesses or other evidence immediately available at the scene, the police may not issue any citations at the scene. Furthermore, if there is significant damage to the vehicles and serious injuries to the drivers that requires hospitalization, it may be difficult to immediately determine fault or obtain evidence from the drivers. Serious accidents often require the expertise of accident scene reconstruction specialists to determine the sequence of events that resulted in the car accident.
Whenever there is a car accident, even if you feel that fault is clear, there are certain steps that you should take when possible. Make sure you get the names and contact information of the other driver involved as well as any witnesses. Say as little as possible to the other driver as any statements that you make may be used as evidence to show that you were at fault. Give the police a factual account of the accident for the police report. Take pictures of the scene, including skid marks, if any.
Whether you feel that you were at fault or that another driver was at fault, proving fault in a car accident can be complicated. Contact an attorney experienced with car accident and reckless driving cases to help you determine the best course of action under the circumstances.
For more information about your legal rights after a car accident or to get assistance with your car accident claim click here.