THE MCMILLIAN LAW FIRM - PROVIDING AGGRESSIVE AND COMPASSIONATE REPRESENTATION FOR VICTIMS OF AUTO ACCIDENTS IN CHARLESTON, SC AND SUMMERVILLE, SC
One of the necessary components of documenting a car accident that must be followed in every instance is reporting the crash to law enforcement. Law enforcement will usually arrive on the scene and conduct a cursory investigation of the crash that includes interviewing the drivers of each vehicle and any witnesses that may be available. At the conclusion of this investigation, the officer will complete the FR-10, or as its known by its more common name . . . the accident report. The accident report will list the names of all drivers and passengers of each car involved, their respective insurance information, estimated travel speed of each car, location, weather conditions, and even have an entry by the office to cite whom he / she feels "contributed to the collision."
As a practicing car accident and personal injury attorney, one of the first items I seek out after being contacted by a new client is the accident report. It helps me make snap judgments as to the viability of a case and whether my client has a legitimate claim. However, it is important to note one about accident reports . . . they can not be used as evidence of negligence in a lawsuit seeking personal injury damages!!
The accident report filed after a car accident may provide guidance to personal injury attorneys and insurance companies as far as the general direction a claim may go and the amount to be paid. However, South Carolina law states that police reports cannot be used as evidence of driver negligence in a lawsuit seeking personal injury damages.
SOME OF YOU MAY HAVE READ THAT AND SAID . . . WHAT!!! So what is the purpose of an accident report if it can not be admitted as evidence of the negligence of the at fault driver? Let' discuss that a litter further . . .
THE PROCESS OF PROVING LIABILITY AND FAULT FOLLOWING A CAR ACCIDENT:
In order for you to maximize the value of your claim and receive the full amount of compensation you deserve after a car accident, you will need a full explanation of the crash that demonstrates who was at fault. Building the case for liability is built upon three separate but equally important foundations: law enforcement investigation, witnesses, and quality legal representation.
LAW ENFORCEMENT INVESTIGATION
Of course I just informed you about how an accident report is not admissible as evidence of negligence in a personal injury lawsuit. Now, like a lawyer, lets put tat specific language up for scrutiny. The law says it can not be admitted as evidence of "negligence" . . . but it doesn't forbid the accident report from being used at trial as a manner of refreshing the memory of the officer on the witness stand. What does this mean? I can't introduce the accident report under the pretense of "here this report shows that he/she is at fault" but I can get all of the information on the accident report, including who the officer determined "contributed to the collision" simply by having the officer recall facts directly from the report and testifying to those facts directly to the jury. The Rules of Evidence allow the author of a document to use said document as a means of recalling prior statements in order to provide accurate testimony at trial. Remember, the important thing here is not the document itself, but the information on the accident report. Having an officer testify to this information live in front of the jury is very compelling and influential upon the conclusions made by a jury concerning fault.
The second major function of law enforcement in a car accident investigation is the ability of the officer to cite a driver for a moving violation. The responding officer, upon conducting an investigation, may have grounds to issue a citation to the driver who has "contributed to the collision." Of course, this can be anything from speeding to reckless driving, to something way more serious like DUI. A citation for any moving violation that has been issued is worth its weight in gold in proving the liability of the offending driver in a car accident . . . and to anticipate where you are going with your thinking, yes evidence of the citation and any subsequent guilty plea or conviction is evidence that is allowable at trial!
In addition to any traffic citations and official observations and conclusions that are documented by law enforcement, the availability of eye witness testimony also serve a key vital role in proving the liability of an at fault driver. If you are physically capable of doing so, please make sure to get the names and contact numbers of any potential witnesses to the car accident. This will be invaluable information that will need to be accessed once your lawyer begins to prepare a formal demand for settlement purposes and/or to call these witnesses to testify at trial.
HIRE THE RIGHT LAWYER - HIRE THE MCMILLIAN LAW FIRM
This is where many cases and many legitimate claims go to the graveyard! Self-represented parties will have the accident report, they will have a copy of the ticket and know the other driver pleaded guilty to a moving violation, they will have the names of all the witnesses and have their statements ready to go . . . yet . . . they do not have the legal expertise needed to bring all of this information together and fuse it into one coherent claim and maximize the compensation for that claim.
Though as a lawyer I often deal in the science of the law, that is the statutes and other objective written words to codify our legal rights, the process of bringing it all together and presenting that to an insurance company is a pure art form. Beyond the obvious of having knowledge of the law and assisting my clients in making every legitimate legal claim to get every penny of compensation that you deserve, there is also a manner of knowing what to say, when to say it, and who to say it to!
An experienced car accident lawyer can not only bring the investigation together and build the claim from a proper foundation from day one, the intervention of a lawyer will increase the speed at which your claim can be resolved, and the intervention of a lawyer will most definitely increase the value of the claim and the resulting compensation paid by the insurance company.
THE MCMILLIAN LAW FIRM - DEDICATED TO SERVING THE VICTIMS OF CAR ACCIDENTS IN CHARLESTON, SC AND SUMMERVILLE, SC
As a Car Accident lawyer in my solo practice, I will take all necessary steps to protect your rights and earn just compensation for you as a result of your auto accident. Through my efforts, I can bring about much needed financial relief to a car accident victim who may be suffering from serious injuries and permanent disability. Being a small firm allows you to have direct access to your lawyer during this entire process, with open lines of communication as we work together towards a viable solution to your specific case.
Being an experienced personal injury attorney, I have experience dealing with insurance companies. I also know where the courthouse is and will not be afraid to call the insurance company to the mat in front of a judge and jury if necessary.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident due to the negligent or reckless acts of another in Charleston, Summerville, Mount Pleasant, James Island, West Ashley, Goose Creek, Moncks Corner, North Charleston, or any of the other fine communities of the Low Country, and need to meet with an experienced personal injury lawyer, please contact me to set up your free case evaluation today. Let me help prevent you from being taken advantage of by the insurance company. I am serious and I am here for you! Contact The McMillian Law Firm today @ 843-900-1306