Port St. Lucie Car Accident Lawyer
Ships sink, planes crash, and trains derail. But there are car accidents. The A-word implies that the incident was inevitable and no one was at fault. In almost all cases, that’s not true. Driver error causes over 90 percent of the vehicle collisions in Florida. In most areas of life, where there is an error, there are consequences. So, an error which caused a vehicle collision, even if the error was unintentional, has consequences.
At Smith, Ball & Báez Injury Lawyers, our tough Port St. Lucie car accident lawyers hold negligent drivers responsible for the mistakes they make. We also take on large insurance companies and force them to fairly compensate injured victims. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Evidence in Car Crash Claims
In a car crash claim, an injured victim must establish negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. Furthermore, there is usually a direct relationship between the amount of proof presented and the amount of compensation awarded. Finally, solid evidence helps a Port St. Lucie car accident lawyer refute some common insurance company defenses. More on that below.
Commonly, evidence in a car crash claim includes witness statements, the police accident report, and medical bills. Frequently, however, there are gaps.
Wrongful death claims and the police accident report are a good example. If the victim did not survive and give a statement to first responders, the police report only contains one side of the story.
Electronic evidence, like a vehicle’s Event Data Recorder, often fills in these gaps. Much like the black box flight data recorders in commercial airplanes, EDRs measure and record things like:
- Steering angle,
- Engine RPM,
- Brake application, and
- Vehicle speed.
A Port St. Lucie auto accident attorney must act quickly to preserve this critical evidence. Frequently, insurance companies destroy wrecked vehicles within a few days. To prevent the loss of evidence, including the loss of an EDR, an attorney must send a spoliation letter to the insurance company. This letter establishes a legal duty to preserve any potential physical evidence in the case.
Insurance Company Defenses
It’s not enough to build a claim for damages. An attorney must also be ready to refute some common insurance company defenses in car crash claims.
The contributory negligence defense is perhaps the most common insurance company defense in these situations. E/ssentially, this doctrine shifts part of the blame for the crash from the tortfeasor (negligent driver) to the victim. For example, the insurance company might admit that its driver changed lanes illegally, but blame the wreck on the victim’s excessive speed.
Once again, evidence is key. If the evidence shows that the victim was only traveling 55mph in a 50mph zone, most jurors would not say that the speed was high enough to cause a crash.
In situations like these, the jurors must apportion fault between the parties on a percentage basis. Florida is a pure comparative fault state. So, even if the victim was 99 percent responsible for the wreck, the tortfeasor is still liable for a proportionate share of damages.
Other insurance company defenses include the last clear chance doctrine, the sudden emergency rule, and the seat belt defense.
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