Rules of the Road: Knowing Your Rights Is Important in Accident Cases

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( — June 23, 2018) — So much of what happens in an accident case depends on how we behave in the moments just before and directly after the crash. But these situations are physically and emotionally intense, especially if you’ve been injured.

Do you have any recourse? What can you do to ensure the best legal outcome? Is any of this your fault? Read on to discover what you can do to protect yourself, and how fault isn’t one-size-fits-all.  

Protecting Your Rights

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law.” Most of us are familiar with our Miranda Rights, which are read to us when we’re arrested and taken into custody by the police. However, it’s good to remember these two sentences when you’re involved in a car accident.

That said, you will have to speak to the police. Make your account of what happened as unbiased as possible; stick to the basic events, and do not speculate or attempt to fill in any blanks if you’re unsure of what happened. Confirm that the officer is going to file a report, and request a copy ASAP. Take as many photos of the scene as you can.

Even if you don’t think you’re injured, head to the hospital to be sure. Remember that you can lose your right to any compensation if you don’t strictly follow any medical advice given.

Do not talk to the other party, nor anyone who is with them. This applies for the duration of your case. Instead, you should promptly hire an attorney, and let all communications occur through them. If you try to sort this out yourself, you can make a real mess out of something that would have otherwise been an open-and-shut case in your favor.

Types of Fault

Unlike other kinds of lawsuits where injury and damage may or may not be present, accident fault is more nuanced. As such, judges and juries determine what kind of “fault” is at play in a case. If you check out, for instance, you’ll read up on what is commonly deemed a case of negligence.

Negligence simply means that a person acted carelessly, and did unintentional harm in the process. When cases get muddled with varying accounts of what happened, negligence can be tricky. In fact, multiple parties could be found negligent in a single accident.

The opposite of negligent fault would be intentional, where it’s found that the person consciously behaved in a way that caused the accident. This is common in cases of road rage.

Recklessness is usually reserved for cases where the manner in which someone was driving is to blame for the accident, like excessive rates of speed. Strict liability is much rarer, as it pertains to accidents where hazardous materials or defective equipment are involved.

Remembering exactly what your rights are in an intense situation can be difficult, so focus on protecting your rights. Keep talking to a minimum, get as much documentation as you can, listen to your doctor, and get an attorney right away. Fault in these cases isn’t always as cut and dry as we assume, and what we say can certainly affect the outcome.