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Can I Sue Someone Who Pulled Out in Front of My Car Even if I Hit Them

If a car pulls out from a driveway right in front of your vehicle, liability may appear clear, but things are not always as they seem. Situations such as this are examples of where you may think that you have a claim that is indisputable, yet disputes and complications arise as to who was responsible.

The following question-and-response scenarios address situations where issues may arise regarding fault:

A car pulled out in front of me and I hit them. Can I sue them?

You can sue but the other motorist might claim that you were the negligent party or were at least partly at fault. For example, if you were under the influence of alcohol and/or speeding at the time, the other motorist could assert that your drinking impaired your ability to stop or that you must have sped up when he or she pulled out in front of you. If there are no independent witnesses to the accident, you may have trouble proving fault.

A car made a left turn in front of me but the driver says the accident was my fault.

Whether the accident was your fault under this scenario depends on who had the right of way, if the other driver violated a red traffic signal or if you failed to stop at a stop sign or light. If all things seem equal, you may be able to prove fault by examining the location of the property damage on the vehicles, the location of the accident and if there were skid marks.

Does it affect my case if the officer did not cite the other driver?

Whether the investigating officer on the scene cited the other driver does not affect your civil case for damages. Many times an officer will not cite a liable driver for an illegal lane change, for traveling too fast for conditions, failure to yield or for traveling too closely even if the officer concludes the driver violated a traffic law. You can use the measurements the officer might have done, the statements garnered from the driver or other witnesses and the location of the property damage in your argument to the defendant’s insurer for compensation.

Can I still collect compensation if I was partly at fault?

California is a pure comparative negligence state based on Li v. Yellow Cab Co., 13 Cal.3d 804, 119 Cal.Rptr. 858, 532 P.2d 1226 (1975), meaning that you can collect compensation even if your own degree of comparative fault is 99%. Your award for damages is decreased by your degree of responsibility so that if your total damage award is $100,000 but you were 75% at fault, you recover only $25,000.

Is it always the other driver’s fault in a rear end accident?

In the majority of cases it is the following driver’s fault. All motorists have a duty to maintain a safe driving distance behind the vehicle in front as well as a safe speed to avoid a rear end collision. There are cases where the first vehicle’s brake lights do not operate so that the following vehicle may escape liability. It is the duty of that motorist to ensure the brake lights are operational. There are also situations where a motorist purposely slams on the brakes so that the following driver rear ends it so as to claim a phony injury and file a fraudulent claim.

What happens if both drivers allege they had the green light?

There are ways to prove that one driver ran the light. The standard of proof in a civil matter like personal injury is by a preponderance of the evidence or that it was more likely than not that one of the drivers ran a red light. This can be difficult if there are no independent witnesses to the accident.

The intersection where the accident occurred might have had a camera to record the accident. If not, check to see if there are any businesses in the immediate area that had surveillance cameras that might have recorded it.

There may also be skid marks at the scene left by one or both vehicles. The location of property damage on the vehicles and the spot in the intersection where the accident occurred can provide excellent clues as to which vehicle was traveling at a high speed and if the other was traveling slowly because the light had just changed.

Also, motorists can be vigorously cross-examined at a deposition or trial.

One thing not to do is give a recorded statement shortly after the accident to the other party’s insurance adjuster. The only purpose of the statement is to get you to state some inconsistency regarding the accident or provide other details that can be used to impeach your credibility and to minimize your injuries, if any. If you were injured in an accident, retain a personal injury lawyer to protect your rights and interests.

Retain car accident lawyer Andrew Ritholz

As you can see, there are a number of complications that can arise whenever there is a car accident with no witnesses and both parties claim the other was at fault. Even in clear liability cases, you can seriously jeopardize your case if you try to handle your claim without experienced legal representation. For over 30 years, thousands of clients in Pasadena and the surrounding communities have trusted their accident and injury claims to Andrew Ritholz of Pasadena. Call him today for a free and comprehensive analysis of your car accident claim.

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