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How to Prove Liability in a Car Accident Case in Florida

05/10/2023
Car Accidents
BY

The establishment of liability for a car accident can be more complicated than it typically appears. While responding police officers will often issue a citation to one of the drivers, for having caused the accident, law enforcement’s determination is not the final word on the matter. A defendant will often claim that the victim’s own negligence contributed to the accident or that the victim was the cause entirely. Fortunately, there are steps which an attorney can take to assist you with the establishment of liability in a car accident case. 

This article will discuss the following:

  • The use of discovery to establish liability
  • The use of expert witnesses to establish liability
  • The importance of building a case in regard to fault

Each of these topics will be discussed in turn.

Using Discovery to Gather Evidence of Liability

“Discovery” is the process by which information is gained from the other side in a lawsuit. This process provides multiple tools and each serves a specific purpose. The tools available through discovery include:

Interrogatories – These are written questions to which the opposing party must provide written answers. In a car accident case they can be used to have the defendant describe their version of the events and to articulate why they contend that they are not liable for the wreck. Also, they may be used to gain information which shows whether or not the defendant should be operating an automobile. For example, a defendant can be asked to list all medications which they are currently taking. The nature of such medications may assist your attorney in showing that the defendant should not have been behind the wheel of a car.  Interrogatories may be used to identify other potential sources of evidence.

Requests for Production – These are requests to the defendant for records, documents, and other tangible items. A defendant can be required to produce their bank records, for example. If such records show the defendant spent money at a bar just before the accident, then their sobriety can become an issue to raise. Furthermore, it is possible to obtain the defendant’s phone records, which may establish whether they were texting or talking on the phone at the time of the accident.

Depositions – Depositions involve a party or witness answering questions while in the presence of a court reporter and while under oath. This creates a record of the witness’ version of events. Should they attempt to change their testimony at trial then the transcript of their deposition may be used to demonstrate that they have previously testified differently. Besides the defendant, important witnesses to depose can include medical providers. Such providers who can testify as to whether the defendant has a medical condition which hinders their ability to drive. Also, if evidence shows that the defendant was in a bar or restaurant then it is possible to depose the wait staff as to how much alcohol the defendant may have consumed. These are just a few examples of how depositions can be useful.

Subpoenas – Subpoenas can be used to gain evidence from third-parties. Examples can include demands that medical providers provide the defendant’s medical records (after the defendant has signed a HIPPA release through a Request for Production). Such records can show if the defendant had a medical condition which hindered their ability to drive. Subpoenas may be served upon most third-parties and can be used to gather a wide range of information.

Using Expert Witnesses to Establish Liability

There are times when it is necessary to retain an expert witness to aid with the establishment of liability. An accident reconstructionist, for example, will visit the scene of the wreck and analyze other information so they may issue a report as to how the wreck likely occurred. Information reviewed by an accident reconstructionist can include police reports, an inspection of the wrecked vehicles, photographs of the scene, skid marks, etc. Should the matter go to trial then the expert will offer their opinions to the jury. The jurors will decide what weight, if any, should be given to the expert.

It is important that you choose a firm with significant financial resources when you are selecting a personal injury attorney to handle your case. Expert witnesses can be expensive and these fees are paid up front by your lawyer. Furthermore, your lawyer will typically not be reimbursed for these fees if you do not prevail at trial or otherwise settle. Retaining an attorney who lacks the necessary resources to hire such a professional can mean being forced to go without needed testimony at trial. This, in turn, can result in a negative outcome for your case.

The Importance of Building a Case in Regard to Liability

If you have been in an accident then it is vital that your attorney utilizes the discovery process discussed above. They should also retain an expert if they deem it necessary. Contrary to what is depicted in popular media, television, and movies, cases are not won with “surprise” evidence that is only uncovered at the last minute. Instead, cases are won at trial by presenting evidence which has been methodically obtained throughout the process. If you do not engage in this process then you will be without needed evidence at trial. The process of accumulating evidence can be lengthy. It is, therefore, important that you retain an attorney at the outset of your case so they may begin gathering evidence.

Contact a Florida Car Accident Attorney Today

If you have been involved in a wreck then it is important that you retain a lawyer with extensive experience in handling such matters. Qualified counsel will know what steps to take to establish the defendant’s liability and will quickly begin the process of doing so. Our firm is devoted to handling such matters and we believe in protecting the rights of individuals who have been harmed by another. Contact us online to speak with a Florida car accident attorney or call us at 800-780-8607 today.

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