Cause is a key element in any claim based upon a motor vehicle accident, be it a truck crash or an auto accident or a pedestrian fatality. Under the law of both Indiana and Illinois, it is the accident victim that has the burden to prove the incident resulted from negligence on the part of the other driver.
Victim Must Prove Cause in a Motor Vehicle Accident Claim
Sometimes, this doesn’t seem fair. After all, someone who was innocently driving or biking or walking down a street or roadway and suffers serious bodily injuries is dealing with quite a bit already. It’s sometimes overwhelming to learn that if they want to seek justice, they will have the burden of finding evidence to show the driver caused the accident through his negligence.
However, that is the law for traffic accidents in both Indiana and Illinois. Any accident victim that pursues a claim for damages must accept that they will have to gather documents and witness testimony to prove not only that they were hurt, but that the other driver is legally responsible for their harm.
In legal terms, the victim (claimant, plaintiff) must show (1) there was a duty of care placed by law on the other driver; (2) this duty of care was breached by that driver; (3) the breach resulted in the incident (crash); and (4) the victim was hurt (damaged) as a result. These are the basic elements of any motor vehicle accident case based upon negligence law in Illinois or Indiana.
Proving Cause in a Car Crash
For many accident victims, establishing their case is not that complicated. They have to gather things like medical documentation, witness statements, and photos of the crash site but these can be located through proper channels.
As for cause, the evidence depends upon what happened in the individual accident. The reasons why an accident happened must be demonstrated by the victim. Sometimes that’s easy to do. Sometimes, it’s not.
For instance, if there was a winter storm, then weather conditions and road hazards may explain a pile-up on the interstate. Department of Transportation documentation as well as videos of the accident site and witness reports will work to establish cause of the accident for the victim.
However, if the driver was driving impaired in some way, then finding evidence of cause can be more problematical. For cases of fatal crashes or serious accidents caused by drunk drivers, often the police report will include helpful facts like field sobriety test results or beer cans discovered in the front seat of the driver’s vehicle.
Drunk driving crashes are also helped by the use of Breathalyzers by police officers. These are devices that measure the blood alcohol content (BAC) of the driver. If they exceed the legal limit, then the driver is in violation of state law and can be arrested for driving under the influence.
This same DUI evidence documented by the police Breathalyzer test can be used by the accident victim or his family in the civil case based upon negligence, where damages are sought against the drunk driver.
Blood alcohol content (BAC) levels are evidence that can be used in both criminal prosecutions and civil personal injury lawsuits.
More and more these days, distracted driving is the cause of serious and deadly accidents here in Indiana and Illinois. We’ve discussed this danger before, see:
- 2017 Distracted Driving Awareness: Danger in Indiana and Illinois
- Developments in Fight against Distracted Driving Accidents
- Fatal Distracted Driving Accidents: How Much at Risk are You Here in Indiana and Illinois?
Distracted driving is the reason for lots of injuries and deaths in motor vehicle accidents in our part of the country. And we don’t know how bad distracted driving really is right now, because it’s difficult to discover.
Distracted driving by the driver who causes a serious crash or fatal accident can be very hard to prove. Establishing with authenticated, admissible evidence that distraction caused the injuries is much more complex than it is to prove drunk driving today.
Chicago City Council Considers Textalyzers
Things may be changing for victims of distracted drivers in Chicago, Illinois. That’s because the Chicago City Council is considering the use of “Textalyzers” by the Chicago Police Department. For details, read the article by John Byrne written on January 11, 2018, and published by the Chicago Tribune as “Chicago aldermen kick around concept of arming police with ‘textalyzers‘.”
What’s a Textalyzer?
The Textalyzer is a device that allows the police officer to scan the driver’s phone and determine if the phone was in use at the time of the crash. The gadget also reveals recent usage of the phone being scanned.
For more on Textalyzers, see: New Distracted Driving Technologies in 2017: Textalyzer and iPhone DND.
Chicago: First in the Country to Use Textalyzers
If Chicago equips its police officers with Textalyzers, it will be the first city in the United States to do so. It’s a tremendous help not only to law enforcement, but to accident victims seeking justice after they have been hurt in a distracted driving accident.
Right now, it’s still in the debate stage. And there are other concerns, as well. Privacy advocates have issues with Textalyzers and the Constitutional protections against illegal search and seizure, warning that these gizmos might be used to violate due process. So, there may be litigation over privacy issues, too.
For more, read “Hearing produces issues with Textalyzer,” written by Bill Cameron for WLS-AM News and published on January 11, 2018.
Textalyzers Will Help Distracted Driving Victims
If the Chicago Police Department is provided with Textalyzers, then officers at the scene of serious crashes and fatal accidents will be able to document and confirm that the driver’s phone was in use at the time of incident.
This confirmation by the Textalyzer will be a part of the official police record. This police report can then be included in the accident victim’s evidence to prove his or her right to civil negligence damages in an Illinois accident claim.
Of course, this will help accident victims in Chicago who are hurt or killed by a distracted driver. Textalyzers provide needed evidentiary support to distracted driving victims.
Victims of distracted drivers may find their cases easier to prove and their claims easier to resolve if the Chicago City Council approves the use of a new device by law enforcement investigating motor vehicle accidents within Chicago’s city limits.
Hopefully, victims will soon be able to use Textalyzer evidence not only in Chicago, but elsewhere in Illinois and Indiana, as well. Let’s be careful out there!