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At Fault for Car Accident

The police report (Santa Monica Police Department) puts me at fault for a car accident. Will that prevent an attorney from taking my case?

- SEA, California

Answer:

An adverse police report is certainly not helpful to your claim, but it doesn't sink your claim. The officer did not witness the car accident. Sometimes officers get it wrong. I suggest you fax or email us the police report and let us take a look at it.

Are you aware of any favorable independent witnesses who are not listed on the police report? Sometimes a witness cannot stick around after an accident and so the police officer does not have the opportunity to interview him or her. A favorable independent witness who is not listed on the police report can turn your claim around. Also, did the officer make mistakes on the police report? They often do. The more mistakes the officer made, the less credible his or her conclusion that you were at fault for the accident.

Even if the police report puts you at fault for the car accident, and there are no other witnesses, that does not mean there is zero liability on the other driver. This may be a "comparative fault" accident, i.e., both drivers bear some degree of fault. If that is the case, then the other driver is liable for his percentage of fault. If he was 50% at fault, then he must pay you 50% of the value of your personal injury claim.

Do not throw in the towel just because the police report is against you. I suggest you consult with a lawyer to discuss your probability of success if you make a personal injury claim.



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