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Georgia Frequently Asked Questions.png

Driver Negligence FAQ

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1)  How can the at-fault driver's negligence be proven?

 

An attorney can help prove the at-fault driver was negligent by conducting a thorough investigation of the incident and collecting key records, that contain and include:

  • Driver Admissions

  • Citations and Dispositions

  • Violating Rules of the Road

  • Video Footage 

  • Police Officer Testimony

  • Witnesses

  • 911 Records

  • Property Damage

  • Expert Testimony 

  • ECM & Event Data

  • Cell Phone Records

  • EMS Records

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2)  How is a driver admission obtained?

Lots of times, a driver admission can be made immediately after the collision.

 

Their first reaction after causing the collision is to apologize and say something like “I didn’t see the stop sign” or “I was looking at my GPS.”  They may deny making these statements later, but you can testify that they were made.

 

Or, the driver’s admission can be noted in other records such as 911 calls, statements made to witnesses or the investigating officer, or any audio and video footage of the collision.

 

Other ways driver admissions can be obtained is through taking their sworn, deposition testimony.  A carefully prepared attorney can ask questions in a way that identifies contradictions and inconsistencies.  Once an at-fault driver is confronted with the facts, they often will admit to their negligence.

 

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3)  When is a traffic citation admissible to prove negligence?

If the at-fault driver pled guilty or was convicted as guilty by the traffic court, then the traffic citation can be admissible as evidence to prove negligence.

 

However, if the at-fault driver simply paid the fine, pled nolo contendre, or was found to be innocent or not guilty by the court, then the traffic citation is not admissible as evidence to prove negligence.

 

Just because a citation is issued does not mean the negligence has been proven.

 

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4)  What are Georgia’s Rules of the Road and how do I prove a driver violated one?

 

Georgia’s Rules of the Road are the traffic statutes designed to prevent unnecessary collisions and injuries. 

 

Although the at-fault driver may be issued a citation for violating one of these traffic statutes, there may be other statutes that you can prove they violated.

 

For instance, a driver who rear-ended another driver may be issued a citation for following too closely (O.C.G.A. 40-6-49).  However, the facts may develop to show that the driver violated other safety statutes, such as:

 

  • Speeding (O.C.G.A. 40-6-181);

  • Improper Lane Change (O.C.G.A. 40-6-123(b));

  • Aggressive Driving (O.C.G.A. 40-6-397);

  • Failing to Exercise Due Care and Avoid Distraction (O.C.G.A. 40-6-241(b));

  • Holding and Talking on a Cell Phone (O.C.G.A. 40-6-241(c)(1));

  • Texting While Driving (O.C.G.A. 40-6-241(c)(2)); or even

  • Driving Impaired by Drugs or Alcohol (O.C.G.A. 40-6-253);

 

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5)  When is video footage available to prove negligence in a collision?

 

Surveillance footage may be available if the intersection had a traffic camera. 

 

Alternatively, local businesses and even homes often have security cameras that capture part of the roadway.  Incidentally, they also can record motor vehicle collisions.

 

Finally, many car owners (or even vehicles themselves) come equipped with dashcam video cameras that can record collisions.

 

It’s important to identify whether video footage may exist immediately after the collision.  That’s because the videos are routinely overwritten after a few days.

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6)  Why do I need the police officer’s testimony if I have the police report?

 

You’ll  likely need the police officer’s testimony because a police report is not usually admissible as evidence at trial. 

 

Police reports and wreck reports are not created to prove your civil negligence case.  And, they normally contain hearsay statements that are later documented by the police officer.

 

The police officer’s testimony is important because he/she can explain the police report, it’s notations, and findings.  Also, the police officer often has additional information that’s not included on the police report. 

 

Finally, a testifying police officer is more authoritative and persuasive than a few sheets of paper that make up the police report.

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7)  How are witnesses to a car wreck identified?

 

The most obvious place to identify a witness is on the wreck report.  However, their personally identifiable information may be redacted, but it gives you a starting point.  Your lawyer can contact the investigating officer and see if they will forward your information to the witness.

 

Potential witnesses could also be identified through 911 records as well.  Again, their information may be redacted, but it gives the lawyer a starting point.

 

Sometimes, witnesses provide their contact information to the drivers before leaving the scene, which can be helpful.

 

Finally, your attorney can be creative in identifying witnesses.  This can include visiting homes and businesses near the scene to ask if anyone witnesses the collision.

 

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to identify and locate witnesses.  Even then, witnesses may not want to become involved in your case.

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8)  How can 911 records help prove negligence?

 

911 records can be helpful because they usually provide recorded statements immediately after the collision, describing the events.  This may be admissible evidence if it qualifies for a hearsay exception.

 

If the at-fault driver called 911, the audio recordings often contain helpful admissions.  Sometimes, the at-fault driver confesses to causing the collision.

 

Finally, 911 calls can be helpful in identifying witnesses who can provide testimony about the at-fault driver’s negligence.

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9)  How can the property damage to my vehicle help prove negligence?

 

The property damage to the vehicles involved in the collision can help prove negligence because they can provide context to how the collision occurred.  Accident reconstructionist can use this data to provide precise, science-driven theories of negligence.

 

For instance, an accident reconstructionist can evaluate crush damage to the vehicles to determine likely speeds.  Also, the location of the damage can provide deductions about the driver’s direction of travel and whether evasive maneuvers were even attempted.

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10)  How can experts be used to prove negligence in my car wreck?

 

Experts can provide important, data-driven testimony on how car wrecks occurred. 

 

Accident reconstructionist can collect data from the vehicles and scene.  Combining this objective data with the testimony of the drivers and other witnesses, the experts can virtually reconstruct the entire collision. 

 

Alternatively, mechanical engineers and similar experts can be used to prove if and how a vehicle component malfunctioned.  For vehicles, injury-causing malfunctions can include tire separation, brake failure, air bag failure, or seatbelt failure.

 

If the roadway was defectively designed or maintained, other engineers can provide testimony on how this led to a collision.

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11)  What does ECM mean and how can it be used to prove negligence?

 

ECM is short for “engine control module,” and it is often characterized as the central nervous system of today’s motor vehicles. 

 

ECM’s monitor sensors throughout the vehicle and its mechanical components to make sure it is operating efficiently.  Alternatively, it notifies the driver when a potential problem exists.

 

ECM’s also store important data that can be important to proving negligence in a car collision in the form of Event Data Recorders (EDR’s).  Information stored includes:

 

  • Pre-crash vehicle dynamics and system status (anti-lock brakes, RPM’s);

  • Driver inputs (braking, steering, acceleration,);

  • Vehicle crash signatures (roll data, velocities before during and after collision);

  • Restrain usage/deployment status (seatbelts and airbags); and

  • Post-crash data (activation of an automatic collision notification system).

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12)  How can cell phone records prove the at-fault driver’s negligence?

 

Cell phone records can help prove negligence usually by showing that the driver was using the telephone at the time of the collision.

 

Cell phone data can only be obtained via a subpoena during litigation.  Even then, it provides only limited information.

 

But, it can help show if the driver was talking on his cell-phone during the collision, exchanges text messages at the time of the collision, or using cell-phone data (such as GPS) at the time of the collision.

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13)  How can EMS records be used to prove negligence?

 

In rare scenarios, paramedics will provide notations in the EMS records as to what they saw or heard at a collision scene.

 

These notations can include statements made by the at-fault driver as well as descriptions of the paramedic’s observations of the collision scene.  If the at-fault driver appears impaired by alcohol or drugs, this may also be noted.

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