Oregon is a fault insurance state, meaning that at-fault drivers are financially liable for their victims’ damages. However, determining fault in a car accident is not always an easy task. In cases involving multiple vehicles, possible negligence on the part of multiple drivers, or lack of clear evidence, it may take a significant amount of investigation to determine liability. However, there are steps you can take after the accident to protect yourself from accusations of liability.
How to Prove Liability in a Car Accident Claim
After a collision, you will need to establish that the at-fault driver’s negligence caused your accident and resulting injuries. To do so, you will need to provide clear evidence to establish four important facts.
- The at-fault driver owed you a duty of care. All drivers have a duty to follow traffic laws and exercise reasonable caution when driving.
- The at-fault driver breached his or her duty of care in some way. For example, running a red light or making an unsafe lane change are breaches of duty.
- The breach of duty directly caused your accident.
- You suffered damages due to the accident that you can collect in your lawsuit.
What to Do Immediately After a Car Accident
After a car accident, always seek medical attention after an accident, even if you do not feel hurt. Failure to seek medical attention could cast doubt on the validity of your claim. When you receive treatment, save all records related to your injuries and medical care—these documents will serve as important pieces of evidence in your claim.
If you can move around the scene without further injury or placing yourself in danger, take the following steps to collect evidence, protect your health, and prove the other driver’s liability.
- Call 911 and report the accident to law enforcement. The responding officer will review the scene, take statements, and create a police report that details how he or she believes the accident occurred.
- Take pictures of the scene. Photograph your vehicle, injuries, debris, and property damage from as many angles as possible. Take pictures of the other vehicles at the scene, the road, and any traffic signs and signals.
- Speak to witnesses. These individuals can provide valuable testimony in your claim. Ask these witnesses if you can have their contact information so you can contact them at a later date.
- Exchange contact, license, and insurance information with the other driver. Keep your interaction with the driver brief. You will need this information to file your future claim.
Hire an Attorney for Your Car Accident Claim
After your accident, the insurance company may contact you and ask for a statement. Decline to speak to the representative and contact a car accident lawyer in Portland as soon as possible. Your attorney can provide valuable support during your accident claim, helping you establish the other driver’s liability.
The benefits of hiring an attorney include the following:
- Your lawyer will handle all aspects of your claim, from filing paperwork to negotiating with the insurance company and the other driver’s lawyer.
- Your attorney will provide you access to expert witnesses, such as medical professionals and accident reconstruction specialists, who can validate your claims and establish the other driver’s liability.
- Your attorney will advise you on how to approach conversations with the insurance company so you can reduce scrutiny and increase your chances of a fair settlement.
As soon as possible after the accident, contact a Portland car accident attorney. Your lawyer will review your case and identify your optimal path to compensation.