Exploring the Burden of Proof in a Car Accident Case
Car accidents happen unexpectedly and can even affect responsible drivers at the worst times. In Michigan, there were a total of 282,640 incidents in 2021 alone. And in the city of Grand Rapids alone, there were 15 fatal accidents recorded in the same year – a disturbing statistic.
Poor road and weather conditions, poor vehicle maintenance, etc., can cause crashes. However, a good chunk of these accidents are caused by negligent driving. Fortunately, car accident victims can file for compensation from the driver at fault – especially if these accidents took lives. This is where consulting a car accident lawyer in Grand Rapids will be extremely helpful.
What is the Burden of Proof in Car Accident Claims?
The success of car accident cases depends on the available evidence. Like other personal injury claims, the plaintiff should prove the burden of proof in car accident cases. This means the accuser should prove that the other driver’s negligent driving caused the accident. Therefore, the burden of proof for car accident cases revolves around the evidence available.
Elements of the Burden of Proof You Should Know
Crucial elements that determine the burden of proof in car accident cases include:
- Duty of care
All motorists are responsible for driving with care because roads are shared spaces. Therefore, besides adhering to traffic laws, drivers should drive with care while minding the safety of other drivers. Car accidents primarily occur when a motorist isn’t responsible or ignores the duty of care. To establish negligence, you should first establish the at-fault driver’s duty of care.
Since all drivers aren’t expected to behave or drive responsibly, there should be metrics to evaluate human error and other factors contributing to the accident. As such, the accuser should look at an objective standard. General objective standards outline the minimum care that drivers should observe when driving.
- Breach of duty of care
After establishing the driver’s responsibility or duty of care, you should follow it up with proof of the driver’s breach of care. If the other driver didn’t show sufficient care when driving, you should bring the evidence as proof of negligence.
Police reports, accident scene photographs, and other legal documents can help you prove the driver’s breach of duty of care. Police reports and medical records can depict the driver’s status before and after the accident. If these reports show the driver’s fatigue, lack of sleep, and intoxication, this is enough proof of a breach of duty.
Causation is the third-most important element of the burden of proof. This involves identifying the main cause of the accident. Identifying causation means the accident wouldn’t have occurred if the driver didn’t act negligently. This can prove difficult if the crash involves multiple vehicles.
In multi-car accidents, the third, fourth, and other succeeding accidents were only dragged into the initial crash. Finding the causation of the accident saves you from unnecessary lawsuits from other involved parties, as they are also victims.
- Injury and damage
You should lay out the damages sustained after identifying causation and breach of duty. Car accidents can cause mild, severe, and life-threatening injuries requiring medical care. Accident victims should produce evidence of the extent of their injuries. Evidence to support injuries and damages includes medical records, doctor statements, and visual evidence in the form of photos or videos.
Which Evidence is Required to Show the Burden of Proof
As mentioned, proving negligence in a car accident case requires that you present sufficient evidence to the court. Evidence in these cases often includes:
- Surveillance footage – you can use video footage from dashcams and nearby cameras.
- Forensic evidence – tire tracks, vehicle parts, and paint chips provide valuable evidence to support your case.
- Expert testimony – witnesses from experts, such as medical providers and accident reconstruction specialists, also provide analysis and opinions about the liable party.
- Defendant’s statements – statements given by the defendant to law enforcement officers can also be used as evidence.
The Bottom Line
Your car accident case will easily be rejected and claims denied if you don’t show the burden of proof. As such, accident victims should understand the intricacies of proving another party’s liability to receive compensation. Having a car accident lawyer makes it easy for victims to win these claims – they are considered experts in the field, after all.