How do You Prove a Car Accident Case in Texas?
In the state of Texas, the victim of a car crash has a legal claim for compensation against a driver that either recklessly or negligently causes an accident. Under Texas law, anyone who causes an injury can be held legally liable for compensating the victim or the victim’s family in the case of a death, by paying for the victim’s medical bills, lost wages or earning capacity, and pain and suffering.
Knowing that a victim has a claim for recovery is different from proving that a victim has a claim for recovery, however. Proving that a car accident happened the way that a victim claims can be difficult without evidence. As a result, it is important to gather evidence after the accident and understand how much proof will be required to sustain a legal claim for compensation. If you have been injured in a car accident call our Houston car accident lawyers for help today!
Negligence Law and the Legal Standard of Proof
- 1 Negligence Law and the Legal Standard of Proof
- 2 Gathering Evidence Immediately After the Accident
- 3 Proving a Car Accident with No Witnesses
- 4 Take Photos of the Damage
- 5 Exchange Information with the Other Driver
- 6 Should I Call the Police After a Houston Car Accident?
- 7 Check for Injuries
- 8 Assess the Damage to Both Cars
- 9 Assess the Other Driver
- 10 Prepare for the Insurance Claims Process
- 11 Contact an Experienced Houston Car Accident Injury Lawyer Today
A person who violates a duty that he or she owes to another and causes injury can be held liable for damages under the Texas legal theory known as negligence. In the context of a car crash, all drivers owe a duty to other drivers to keep the roads safe. If a driver creates a roadway hazard or is driving recklessly, that driver will be responsible for compensating the victim for any injuries that the driver caused.
In Texas, the accident victim must prove that the offending driver caused the victim’s injuries by a “preponderance of the evidence.” Unlike the criminal standard of proof, which is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the preponderance of the evidence standard simply requires the accident victim to prove that the other driver was at least 50% at fault for the accident.
Gathering Evidence Immediately After the Accident
If the victim is going to effectively prove that the accident occurred the way that he or she claims, the victim will need to gather evidence. Before gathering any evidence, however, the victim should seek immediate medical treatment for his or her serious injuries. While gathering evidence is important, the crash victim’s health is more important. If any crash victim has a serious injury, call 911 for medical care immediately.
Assuming that no serious injuries have occurred, evidence gathering should begin as soon after the accident as possible. The first step will be to file a police report. A police report will act as an objective third party’s ruling on fault. Police reports are generally considered to be highly credible evidence, and should be requested whenever possible.
Next, the crash victim should gather additional evidence at the scene. First, the victim should obtain the other driver’s contact and insurance information. This will be needed to file either an insurance claim or a lawsuit. Second, if anyone witnessed the crash, the victim should collect the contact information of those witnesses, as their testimony will be useful in establishing the facts of the accident. Read what to do if there are no witnesses. Third, the victim should take pictures of the crash scene. It is true that a picture is wither a thousand words, but it may also be worth thousands of dollars if it shows the scene of the accident in a light that supports the victim’s version of events.
1. Take Pictures or Video of the Auto Accident
A picture is worth a thousand words. Nowhere is this more important than at an accident scene. This is because there are different versions of the story, and it could be an uphill battle for the judge or jury to determine what really happened. Pictures and video are important items of evidence that help to show the truth of the matter.
You can easily use your phone camera to take pictures. Try to take the pictures from multiple angles. You should take close-up pictures and pictures from far away.
You should take picture of the skid marks on the road. This is very important as experts can use this to recreate what happened during the accident. Take pictures of the traffic signs at the scene of the accident. With the pictures of the traffic signs, you can easily tell who ran a stop sign or red light.
The other driver might claim that he or she could not see the accident scene clearly and that was what caused the accident. You can either prove or disprove this if you take pictures from his or her own point of view.
You also need to take photographs of the other vehicles involved in the accident. You should take the pictures while the vehicles are in the position they were in after the collision. If there is just one vehicle involved, take pictures of this vehicle.
2. Get the Contact Information of the Other Driver and Witnesses
You should not let the other driver leave the accident scene without getting his or her contact information. If the accident is a hit-and-run, you should not chase the other car. Instead, just take down the license plate number, if possible, and report it to the police.
The testimony of neutral witnesses is important in helping to determine what actually happened. So, if there are other drivers or pedestrians at the scene, make sure you get their contact information.
3. Police Reports and Other Official Reports
You have the right to request access to the police report. Make sure you do and go through it to be sure it reports the events from your point of view. Although the police officer was not at the scene of the accident when it happened, the conclusion he or she draws as to who caused the accident can be quite convincing to the court.
If you notice anything missing in the police report, get your car accident lawyer to help you rectify it.
You also have the right to request the report the other driver made to the Department of Motor Vehicles. By obtaining this report, you might be able to point out inconsistencies in the other driver’s testimony and hold him or her liable for the accident.
Proving a Car Accident with No Witnesses
Car accidents are pretty uncomfortable situations. Anyone who has ever been involved in one will tell you they are very scary and quite stressful. There is no real way to prepare for car accidents because they often happen out of the blue without warning. When they do happen, it is important to be aware that fault is a major issue, especially if you or a family member is seriously injured and pursue financial compensation through a personal injury claim. Most insurance companies are only inclined to settle a claim if liability on their insured is clearly established.
This task becomes quite difficult when there are no witnesses.
What usually happens when an accident occurs is that the two drivers involved get each other’s insurance details and file claims with the respective insurance companies. This is because each would feel it was the other driver’s fault.
Due to the conflicting statements that each driver makes to the other’s insurer, it becomes a game of whom to believe. When no witnesses are available, it is still possible to provide enough proof of how the car accident happened and that it was the other driver’s fault, not yours.
Take Photos of the Damage
Your smartphone can become a “digital witness” when you take photographs of the damage to your vehicle and the surroundings. You can also make a video recording of your interaction with the other driver, especially if he or she appears to be intoxicated.
Exchange Information with the Other Driver
In order to successfully file a claim against the other driver’s insurance company, you need his or her contact information. This includes full name, address, phone number and other contact details. You should also expressly ask for a copy of his or her auto insurance card so you know whom to contact in order to submit a claim. Make sure that the driver is the owner of the car. If not, collect the details of the owner too.
Ensure that you obtain the driver’s license number and always make sure to check that the other driver’s license is not expired. If it is expired, then he or she may be at fault as he or she should not have been on the road in the first place.
Should I Call the Police After a Houston Car Accident?
Car accidents can happen at any time. They can be annoying because they happen when you least expect them. More often than not, they put a dark cloud on even the brightest days. Time is an important issue in the aftermath of a car accident. The moment the collision occurs, the proverbial clock begins on your ability to file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver. Deciding on whether the time is right to contact the police is also a factor.
As a general rule, it is best to call the police and ask that they come out to the accident scene. Why? Because this will result in the police filing an official accident report and may include the police ticketing the other driver. These two things will dramatically improve your chances of securing financial restitution when a personal injury claim is filed.
Top 5 problems if you don’t call the police after an accident:
- The at-fault driver can change their story after you leave. It is better to have an officer question them and put it in the accident report.
- Witness information could be lost. Accident witnesses are more likely to give accurate statements and contact information if questioned by a law enforcement officer.
- Citations (tickets) will not be issued against the other driver. Guilty pleas to tickets are admissible as good evidence regarding liability in a trial. It is much better for you if the police investigate and ticket the other party.
- Drunk drivers can escape prosecution. If you are hit by a suspected drunk driver, do not let them talk you out of calling the police. It is clearly safer to get them off the road and their arrest and prosecution is very important to a civil case against them for driving drunk and causing an accident.
- The police officer’s opinion regarding the cause of the accident can be used in court and that opportunity is lost if you don’t call the police.
In addition to calling the police, you should consider taking the following actions after a car wreck:
Check for Injuries
It is necessary to check yourself and your passengers as well as persons in the other vehicle for injuries. Apart from the fact that you need to put your health and that of the others involved in the accident over your car, the kind of injuries caused from the accident will determine whether you need to call the police.
If you discover that anybody is hurt, you should call the police and emergency services immediately. DO NOT drive away before the situation is taken care of.
Assess the Damage to Both Cars
After making sure you and the other people involved in the accident are okay, you can check the damage to both cars. Take photos of the damage to your car and photos of the accident scene. It is important to know the positioning of the cars after the accident so that the police, insurance adjusters and most importantly your lawyer can understand how the accident happened.
Assess the Other Driver
Approach the other driver to obtain his or her name, address, phone number, license number, and insurance details. If the other driver refuses to cooperate with you or try to convince you to simply “exchange insurance information,” you should take it upon yourself to call the police. If the other driver refuses to stop or drives away, definitely call the police.
Prepare for the Insurance Claims Process
Even when the damage to the cars is not so serious, it may still be advisable to call the police. This is especially true for the purpose of proof in the insurance claims process. When the call is made to the police, there will often be an official report and you can request a copy. This report can help make the claims process easier and can be relied on as proof of how the accident happened.
Contact an Experienced Houston Car Accident Injury Lawyer Today
Suffering a serious injury in an auto accident can leave you or a family member struggling to pay fixed expenses and struggling to accomplish even menial tasks due to serious bodily injuries. If you find yourself in this situation, you have the right to file a claim for the damages you suffered. Contact the law firm of Fleming Law, P.C., to schedule a free consultation today 737-201-0543.